State encourages social and community responsibility for those considering July Fourth holiday at Masonboro Island Reserve

Morehead City

The N.C. Division of Coastal Management and the New Hanover County Sheriff’s Office are urging the public to act responsibly during the upcoming July Fourth holiday at the Masonboro Island Reserve, a research reserve and dedicated state nature preserve. For the 2021 holiday, the state coastal agency and the sheriff’s office are working together to provide for public safety and to increase public awareness of responsible visitor behavior on the island. The Division strongly encourages those who are not fully vaccinated to maintain social distancing and wear face coverings in crowded areas while visiting reserve sites.

“Visitor safety is our first priority during the July Fourth holiday at Masonboro Island,” said Braxton Davis, director of the N.C. Division of Coastal Management. “Our partnership with the New Hanover County Sheriff’s Office during past holidays has helped to prevent illegal activities and ensure visitor safety. I’m confident that this year will be the same.”

In past years, unofficial large gatherings of visitors during the July Fourth holiday on the Masonboro Island Reserve resulted in arrests for underage drinking and unlawful behaviors, along with boating violations, accidents and injuries. An increased law enforcement presence in recent years, along with public outreach prior to the holiday, has helped significantly decrease potentially dangerous behavior on the holiday. The agencies would like to remind visitors not to attempt the dangerous swim across Masonboro Inlet.

Before visiting Masonboro Island or the other reserve sites, please review visitor guidelines on our website. Preparedness is key for safety – visitors should carry proper supplies, use reliable transport, and know the rules for use of the reserve. Visitors are also expected to engage in responsible use of the site, including carrying out their trash, refraining from damaging natural resources, and keeping in mind the safety of other visitors.

The North Carolina Division of Coastal Management (DCM), a division of the N.C. Department of Environmental Quality, works to protect, conserve and manage North Carolina's coastal resources in the 20 coastal counties. The N.C. Coastal Reserve and National Estuarine Research Reserve, a program of DCM, 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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