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Westport to fine beachgoers taking rocks from town beaches

WESTPORT, Mass. (WPRI) -- A local town has had enough of people using their beaches for free landscaping materials.

Now, Westport is making it illegal to take rocks and plants from the town's beaches.

"Over the last five to 10 years, it's been a real problem,"  Vice President of the Westport Beach Committee Sean Leach said.

Leach said he's seen dozens of people collecting rocks and other items at the town's beaches, including East, Cherry and Web and Knubble Beaches.

"Lately, it's been bags and barrels and bobcat scoop fulls," Leach said.

He said he's seen the rocks used for firepits, rock gardens and driveway aprons.

But it's not just the rocks are disappearing.

"We have a problem where people dig up certain species of plants that grow," Leach said. "Rose bushes, winterberry... that kind of thing. I think people see it as a free resource to landscape their own yard."

"It's a resource that the town needs to protect, part of the coastal banks, part of the coastal feature for this whole area," he added. "Taking it away is a problem for the protection for the road and local areas."

To maintain coastal resiliency, the town passed a new ordinance allowing police to fine anyone who is seen taking rocks and asking them to put the rocks back.

"A $250 fine and we're looking to create a sliding scale if you get caught more than once," Leach explained. "It isn't the child bringing home a souvenir from the beach, it's people loading up buckets and buckets full of rocks."

The town plans to put up signs in the area reminding people about the ordinance.


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