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State acquires 35 acres for Bird Island Coastal Reserve

Morehead City, NC

The state has purchased 35 acres in Sunset Beach to be added to the Bird Island Coastal Reserve.

The addition of the oceanfront Sunset Beach West property, which is located between the western end of West Main Street in Sunset Beach and the Bird Island Reserve’s eastern boundary, will allow the public to directly access the Bird Island Reserve from public access points in Sunset Beach.   

“The Sunset Beach West tract is a significant addition to the Bird Island Reserve ensuring long-term habitat protection,” said Braxton Davis, director of the Division of Coastal Management. “The acquisition will also allow for continuous management of the area neighboring Sunset Beach.”

As one of the few stretches of undeveloped barrier islands in southern North Carolina, the Bird Island Reserve encompasses a near-pristine transect of barrier island habitats extending from the oceanfront to the sound and is home to diverse plant and animal communities. The undisturbed nature of the area provides ideal habitat for several rare species including loggerhead sea turtle, seabeach amaranth, eastern painted bunting, wood stork, and diamondback terrapins.

In 2018, the N.C. General Assembly appropriated $2.5 million to fund the purchase of the property in order to permanently conserve it as part of the Bird Island Coastal Reserve. These funds followed requests from the Town of Sunset Beach and the owners of the property as a way to resolve ongoing litigation regarding the ownership and development of the site.

The N.C. Coastal Reserve and National Estuarine Research Reserve protects natural areas for education, research and compatible traditional uses. Since its creation in 1989, the program has preserved more than 44,000 acres of unique coastal environments at 10 sites along the coast.

 

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