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Sunset Beach, North Carolina, 28468, United States
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Bird Island Coastal Reserve

  • Kindred Spirit Pic

Natural Features of Bird Island

The Bird Island Reserve has pristine sandy white

beaches, high natural dunes, and over 1000 acres of

beautiful salt marsh and tidal creeks.

Creation of the Reserve

Bird Island was privately owned from 1771 through

2001. Efforts to develop the island were halted in 1996

when the N.C. Coastal Resources Commission denied

the request to construct a bridge over Mad Inlet. In

2001 and 2002 the state of North Carolina purchased

these lands with funds from the Clean Water

Management Trust Fund, National Heritage Trust

Fund and N.C. Department of Transportation. Many

years of local citizens’ effort, particularly the Bird Island

Preservation Society, contributed to the inclusion of

Bird Island in the Coastal Reserve program.

Purpose of the Reserve

This natural area is one of 10 sites that make up the

North Carolina Coastal Reserve & National Estuarine

Research Reserve. Preservation of Bird Island

Reserve allows this coastal ecosystem to be available

as an outdoor laboratory where scientists, students

and the public can learn about processes, functions

and infl uences that shape and sustain the coastal

area. Traditional recreational uses are allowed as long

as they do not disturb the environment or organisms or

interfere with research and educational activities.

The Bird Island Reserve is located in Brunswick County,

south of Shallotte. From Hwy. 17 South, turn left onto N.C.

904; then turn right onto N.C. 179. It will become Sunset

Beach Boulevard. Cross the Intracoastal Waterway onto

Sunset Beach. At the “T” intersection with Main Street,

turn right. Parking is permitted on the side of the road

and near the 40th Street crossover. Walk west on the

beach to get to the reserve boundary.

North Carolina

Coastal Reserve & National

Estuarine Research Reserve

Wilmington Field Offi ce

5600 Marvin K. Moss Lane

Wilmington, NC 28409

(910) 962-2998

Bird Island is managed by the N.C. Division of Coastal

Management to protect the island’s ecosystems and

organisms for research, education and compatible

recreational uses. Support and assistance of the Bird

Island Preservation Society and its volunteer stewards

is gratefully acknowledged. This site is also a dedicated

state nature preserve.

The North Carolina Coastal Reserve & National

Estuarine Research Reserve is a part of the N.C.

Division of Coastal Management, a division of the N.C.

Department of Environment and Natural Resources.