The N.C. Coastal Reserve and National Estuarine Research Reserve Closures

Coastal Reserve COVID-19 update – April 3, 2020

The N.C. Coastal Reserve and National Estuarine Research Reserve will close select reserve sites to visitors effective April 3 at 7:30 p.m. to protect public safety and reduce the spread of COVID-19, and to support current state and local restrictions and guidance. Closures specifically apply to wet/dry beaches and uplands at the sites, while waters remain accessible for visitors to navigate through and utilize for recreational activities as long as they follow social distancing and gathering restrictions and guidelines.  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.

  • Rachel Carson Reserve in Beaufort CLOSED
  • Masonboro Island Reserve near Wilmington CLOSED
  • Bird Island Reserve near Sunset Beach CLOSED

The remaining sites are open, though some local governments have limited area access to residents only.

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

Guidance for visitors to 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 6 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 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: or call 866-462-3821 for health-related questions.

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