PENDER COUNTY — Hutaff Island will be preserved in perpituity, thanks to Audubon N. C., the N. C. Coastal Land Trust, the Hutaff and McEachern family, and philanthropist Tim Sweeney.
Coastal Land Trust made the Earth Day announcement, sharing an agreement to protect all 1,300 acres of the island was signed by the conservation partnership this week.
Connected to Lea Island, the 2-mile Hutaff Island is sandwiched by Figure 8 to its south and Topsail Beach to its north.
Hutaff is one of the state’s last privately owned undeveloped barrier islands. The island protects outstanding resource waters, a rarely issued N.C. Department of Environmental Quality designation.
“Hutaff Island is a rare gem on the North Carolina coast. It’s one of the last, best examples of a natural barrier island with dynamic dunes and productive saltmarsh,” Walker Golder, Executive Director of the North Carolina Coastal Land Trust, said in a press release. “We are so very grateful to the Hutaff/McEachern family for their commitment to conserving the island forever and to the partnership that brought us to this important day.”
The island serves as a sanctuary for many species, including federally threatened Piping Plovers and Red Knots, and the imperiled Saltmarsh Sparrow. With no development or lights, the island is a launchpad for baby Loggerhead sea turtles, according to the Coastal Land Trust.
“For so many of our most beloved coastal birds and sea turtles, Hutaff is one of the last remnants of habitat they have left. That’s why the island’s conservation is so important—it ensures birds like Least Terns and marine animals like Loggerhead sea turtles will continue to have a home on our coast,” Andrew Hutson, Audubon North Carolina Executive Director and National Audubon Society Vice President, said in a release. “We’re grateful to all our partners for making it possible.”
Both Audubon and the Coastal Land Trust have worked for years to protect Hutaff Island. Moving forward, Audobon biologists will continue to track bird and turtle nesting grounds on the island.
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