Bird Island Coastal Reserve
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.
Coastal Reserve & National
Estuarine Research Reserve
Wilmington Field Offi ce
5600 Marvin K. Moss Lane
Wilmington, NC 28409
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.
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