too much pine straw in azaleas??????

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We recently bought a lake home in the Pinehurst, NC, area and have not gardened in that area before. We have a large area of long leaf pines on the lakefront with azaleas growing beneath. After trimming out deadwood and realizing some of the 25 or so plants have deadwood in the central crown area I am thinking the heavy layer of straw falling in the plants may have to be raked/pulled out of the bases of the plants possibly yearly in order for them to breathe. Anyone living in that area of NC have suggestions??
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