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Monday, May 20, 2024

Masonboro Island and Bird Island closing to reduce risk of Covid-19 spread [Free read]

Surfers on Masonboro Island  a day before Hurricane Dorian passed by the region before making landfall over Cape Hatteras. The island is closed to visitors effective Friday at 7:30 p.m. (Port City Daily photo/Mark Darrough)
Surfers on Masonboro Island a day before Hurricane Dorian passed by the region before making landfall over Cape Hatteras. The island is closed to visitors effective Friday at 7:30 p.m. (Port City Daily photo/Mark Darrough)

SOUTHEASTERN NORTH CAROLINA — The North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) will close Masonboro Island and Bird Island to visitors effective Friday at 7:30 p.m.

The DEQ will close wet and dry beaches and upland areas of the islands, while surrounding waters will remain accessible for visitors to navigate through and use for recreational activities “as long as they follow social distancing and gathering restrictions and guidelines,” according to a DEQ release sent Friday morning.

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Both islands are reservation areas managed by the DEQ’s N.C. Coastal Reserve and National Estuarine Research Reserve, the latter a federal-state partnership between the DEQ’s Division of Coastal Management and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

At over 8 miles in length, Masonboro Island is the the largest undisturbed barrier island along the state’s southern coastline. Running parallel to southern New Hanover County, southeast of Wilmington, it is located in the most populous region of the North Carolina coast and is a popular destination for boaters and surfers in the spring and summer.

Bird Island is a roughly 1,300-acre reserved barrier island between Sunset Beach and the state’s border with South Carolina.

“The reserves will continue working with local authorities and encourage residents to comply with the guidelines and directives of state and local leaders to protect themselves and their communities,” according to the release.

The DEQ also announced the closure of Rachel Carson Reserve in Beaufort.

The remaining sites are still open, though some local governments have limited access to the areas to residents only, according to the release:

  • Bald Head Woods Reserve on Bald Head Island
  • Zeke’s Island Reserve near Kure Beach
  • Permuda Island Reserve near Topsail Island
  • Emily and Richardson Preyer Buckridge Reserve near Columbia
  • Buxton Woods Reserve on Hatteras Island
  • Currituck Banks Reserve near Corolla
  • Kitty Hawk Woods Reserve in Kitty Hawk

The DEQ has also listed the following guidelines for those visiting open reserve sites during the Covid-19 outbreak:

  • Postpone your visit if you are sick or experiencing symptoms consistent with COVID-19.
  • Avoid groups consistent with guidance from the CDC and state and local restrictions.
  • Keep six feet or more between you and other visitors who are not members of your immediate household.  
  • Avoid group photos that violate social distancing guidelines. 
  • Avoid touching surfaces others may have touched, such as signs and boardwalk railings.   
  • Do not share any personal items, including phones, cameras, water bottles, and recreational equipment.
  • Continue to keep dogs leashed and practice social distancing with other people and their dogs, as it is unclear what role pet fur and restraints may play in the transmission of the virus.  
  • Cover your face when you sneeze or cough. 
  • Thoroughly clean hands with soap and water or sanitizer frequently. 

For the latest information on COVID-19 in North Carolina, go to: www.ncdhhs.gov/coronavirus or call 866-462-3821 for health-related questions.

Surfers on Masonboro Island  a day before Hurricane Dorian passed by the region before making landfall over Cape Hatteras. The island is closed to visitors effective Friday at 7:30 p.m. (Port City Daily photo/Mark Darrough)
Surfers on Masonboro Island a day before Hurricane Dorian passed by the region before making landfall over Cape Hatteras. The island is closed to visitors effective Friday at 7:30 p.m. (Port City Daily photo/Mark Darrough)

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