Contact: Michele Walker, 919-733-2293, ext. 229
N.C. Coastal Reserve Program celebrates 20th anniversary June 19
In June 1989, the North Carolina General Assembly created the North Carolina Coastal Reserve Program to acquire, improve and maintain undeveloped coastal land and water areas in a natural state. Twenty years later, that seemingly simple act of legislation has led to the preservation of more than 41,000 acres of unique environments on 10 coastal reserve sites along the entire length of our coast. Four of the sites are also part of NOAA’s National Estuarine Research Reserve System (NERRS), a state-federal partnership program designed to improve coastal management and scientific understanding of the nation’s estuarine and coastal habitats.
From Currituck Banks in the north, to Bird Island on our southern border, North Carolina’s coastal reserve system has become an unparalleled resource for education, research and stewardship of these precious and irreplaceable habitats.
Help us celebrate the reserve program’s 20th anniversary by getting to know some of North Carolina’s most beautiful and unspoiled places—visit one (or more!) of our 10 reserve sites and discover some of our coastal treasures:
Currituck Banks National Estuarine Research Reserve — Just north of Corolla in Currituck County, this reserve features 960 acres of beach, dune, maritime forest and marsh. Visitors to the site enjoy a 2,000-foot boardwalk and hiking trail.
Kitty Hawk Woods Coastal Reserve — This is an 1,800-acre complex of maritime forest and wetlands. The site features isolated swamp forests dominated by bald cypress.
Buxton Woods Coastal Reserve— This 968-acre portion of the largest remaining maritime forest in the state is located near Buxton on Hatteras Island.
Emily & Richardson Preyer Buckridge Reserve ¾ Located on the Alligator River in Tyrrell County, this site features more than 27,000 acres of sprawling swamp forest, making it the largest of the 10 coastal reserves and home to the largest contiguous tract of Atlantic white cedar in the state.
Rachel Carson National Estuarine Research Reserve — This 2,600-acre complex, featuring salt marsh, tidal flat, beach, and maritime forest habitats, is located near Beaufort in Carteret County and is accessible only by boat. During the summer, staff and volunteers lead weekly field trips through the site.
Permuda Island Coastal Reserve — Located near Topsail Island in Onslow County, this reserve protects a 50-acre island and valuable shellfish waters in Stump Sound.
Masonboro Island National Estuarine Research Reserve — Located between Wrightsville Beach and Carolina Beach in New Hanover County, this 5,000-acre pristine barrier island/estuarine complex is accessible only by boat.
Zeke’s Island National Estuarine Research Reserve— Located south of Fort Fisher in New Hanover County and featuring 1,200-acres of barrier island and marsh bordered by a rock jetty, this site has access by a public boat ramp and an off-road vehicle trail.
Bald Head Woods Coastal Reserve — Located on north central Bald Head Island, this 173-acre maritime forest reserve is distinguished by the presence of cabbage palmetto trees, which are not found in other North Carolina maritime forests.
Bird Island Coastal Reserve ¾ Located near Sunset Beach in Brunswick County, this site features nearly 1,300 acres of marsh, wetlands and sandy beach. It is accessible by foot from Sunset Beach, and by boat from the Little River Inlet in South Carolina and from the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway.
For more information on North Carolina’s Coastal Reserve Program, please visit www.nccoastalreserve.net.