The dispute over barrier island land in Sunset Beach is finally over after the state voted this week to buy undeveloped land on Sunset Beach to add to the Bird Island Coastal Reserve.
The N.C. Council of State voted to buy 35 acres at the western end of Sunset Beach for $2.45 million. Under the deal, the land will be added to the adjacent 1,200-acre Bird Island Reserve, a coastal reserve managed by the state.
The 35 acres sit between the existing reserve and the developed portions of Sunset Beach. Much of the land did not exist prior to the late 1990s, when Madd Inlet — the waterway that separated Bird Island from Sunset Beach — shoaled in.
Bird Island was privately owned prior to 2002. The shoreline, dunes, and marshland of Bird Island provide important habitat and nesting for species that are endangered, threatened, or of special concern, including the Kemp’s Ridley and Loggerhead sea turtles.
Although there was no vehicular access to this land, there was the threat that the land might some day be developed. The state of North Carolina used $4.2 million of public and private funding to purchase the land and create a coastal reserve over 15 years ago.
Bird Island is also the home to Kindred Spirit Mailbox. Read More about the mailbox here.