Many came out for the ribbon cutting in Beaufort County Friday for a new boat ramp, but one group took the opportunity to voice their concerns about an open pit mine project that could be coming to the area.
The dedication of the Blounts Creek boating access area is a day that many Beaufort County residents say they've been waiting on for years. But their celebration was shared with concern from protesters who say this new area will be damaged if a future project goes through.
Dolly Woodell lives nearby and says, "This is fantastic. This has added tourists and everybody fishes out here and it is a spotting ground for the sea life."
Not everyone shares Woodell's excitement. Protesters like Sue Pass say, while she supports the new boat ramp, there's a bigger issue on Blounts Creek that needs to be addressed. Pass says, "Martin Marietta is planning a quarry near here and in order to quarry their limestone, they need to empty the water from the pit. When they empty the water, it's going to lower the water table, which is going to affect wells in the area."
Pass contends, eventually, Blounts Creek and everything in it will also be affected, ultimately changing the atmosphere of the new recreation area.
Beaufort County Commissioner Jerry Langley understands protesters taking advantage of the event to get their message out, but says the message he wants to get out is what this new ramp means for the area. Langley says, "I think you have more access points on the river, but on the south side, you didn't have places where the public could actually have this type of access so this kind of levels the playing field a little."
Protesters say they will continue to take advantage of opportunities to let their voices be heard.
Martin Marietta is still in the process of trying to acquire permits for the project.