DARE COUNTY, N.C. (WAVY) — Southern Shores native Debbie Swick is on a mission to ban balloon releases. 

While they may be fun to participate in, she said they are harmful to the environment and can travel up to 1,300 miles. 

“There’s just so many impactful things that come from these balloon releases,” Swick said, “whether it be in the environment as litter, or in the ocean or on the fields, the forest, it’s everywhere and it is impacting our wildlife as well.”

In Virginia, balloons are one of the most abundant types of litter, according to the state Department of Environmental Quality.

Swick started her initiative one year ago. She has worked on her own to help pass four ordinances in Dare County, North Carolina.

“The latest was Kitty Hawk, and I have one in Duck who was first who led the triumphant battle cry, and followed by Nags Head and then Southern Shores,” she said. “So Kitty Hawk was just this past Monday and hopefully we’ll continue this momentum with the other towns locally.”

Some towns within Dare County are now placing fines as a deterrent, similar to Virginia’s law that was enacted in 2021 and calls for a $25 fine per balloon.

“I would think that they would make people think twice about the action,” she said. “Nags Head implemented a $50 per balloon fine. Southern Shores, Duck and Kitty Hawk have all implemented a $250 fine per below.”

Southern Shores

Kitty Hawk/Duck/Nags Head

Her next step is statewide legislation.

“North Carolina is unique in that we can implement ordinances on the town level as well as the county level,” Swick said. “And I have the help of Sen. Bobby Honig, who is going after legislation. And while he’s going after the big fish, I’m going after the little fish.”

Swick’s next meeting with the Dare County Commissioners is scheduled for July 15.

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Credit: Original content published here.

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