Taking rocks from Westport beaches will cost you $250

WESTPORT, Mass. (WJAR) — Officials in Westport are drawing a line in the sand when it comes to people taking rocks off the town’s beaches. If you’re caught, it could cost you hundreds of dollars.

At last week's town meeting, an ordinance was enacted to fine people $250 for stealing large quantities of rocks.

“Years ago, people brought their kids and grandkids to the beach and picked up a couple of rocks and brought them home, but now it’s becoming a problem where people are taking large quantities," said Beach Committee Vice Chair Sean Leach.

The rocks, especially on East Beach off Horseneck Road, are very round and smooth. Those qualities make them highly sought-after by landscape architects and artists.

But they serve a purpose in nature, as well, and that's what the town is hoping to protect.

“The rocks on the beach are what maintain the beach," said Leach. "This is what keeps the beach here. It protects the road, it protects other places, even the flood zone. It’s all part of the barrier coastal system, and if you start altering it, it changes everything else.”

Portsmouth resident Owen Reuther, who is also an ocean engineering student, shared similar sentiments.

“Even though you might not see it as a protective barrier, it actually serves as kind of like a wall with hurricanes," Reuther said.

It’s always been illegal to steal rocks from the beach under the Wetlands Protection Act, but it’s never been enforced.

“It’s hundreds of people a year," said Leach. "I don’t even think those people realize how many people are doing it.”

It’s not just rocks that are a problem.

People are also digging up rose bushes and other plants. Those people will also be subject to the fine.

See NBC 10 NEWS article with video . . .