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Park Services, Reserve Sites Closed

Shorebirds roost at the Rachel Carson Reserve near Beaufort. Photo: NCDEQ

In response to COVID-19, three coastal reserve sites have been closed to the public and Hammocks Beach State Park will not begin Friday ferry service as originally scheduled.

Hammocks Beach officials made the announcement Thursday that the ferry service from the park’s visitor center to Bear Island wouldn’t begin Friday as planned for the safety of park staff and visitors during the coronavirus pandemic.

Bear Island can be accessed for day use only by paddling or personal vessel. Restrooms, the visitor center and campsites on Bear Island are closed, but potable water is available. The trails are open.

Officials said a launch date for ferry services will be announced on Hammocks Beach State Park updates as soon as it is determined.

Rachel Carson Reserve in Beaufort,  Masonboro Island Reserve near Wilmington and Bird Island Reserve near Sunset Beach are closed to visitors effective at 7:30 p.m. Friday.

The North Coastal Reserve and National Estuarine Research Reserve announced Friday the closure of these reserve sites to visitors to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and to support current state and local restrictions and guidance.

Closures are specific to beaches and uplands at the sites but waters remain accessible to navigate and use for recreational activities.

Currituck Banks Reserve near Corolla, Kitty Hawk Woods Reserve in Kitty Hawk, Emily and Richardson Preyer Buckridge Reserve near Columbia, Buxton Woods Reserve on Hatteras Island, Permuda Island Reserve near Topsail Island, Zeke’s Island Reserve near Kure Beach and Bald Head Woods Reserve on Bald Head Island will remain open, though some local governments have limited area access to residents only.

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The story was compiled by staff members of Coastal Review Online.