Exploring North Carolina's State Reserves

State Reserves

It's not unusual for visitors to the North Carolina Coastline to see large parcels of undeveloped land. From wildly untouched maritime forests to endless miles of beaches ripe for exploring, one of the joys of the natural habitats of North Carolina's beaches is that they are simply untouched.

One of the state run programs that are helping to keep a number of these key natural areas in tact is The North Carolina Coastal Reserve (NCCR) & National Estuarine Research Reserve System (NCNERR.) Through NCCR and NCNRR, more than 41,000 acres of estuarine land and water is protected in a network of ten sites along the coast established for long-term research, education and stewardship. Essentially, these areas provide which provide a healthy and undeveloped habitat for wildlife, offers educational opportunities for students, teachers and visitors, and serves as living laboratories for scientists who want to delve deeper into coastal ecosystems.

Visitors to North Carolina's beaches and coastal communities will be delighted to find that all of these areas, scattered all along the coastline, are open to the public, and a perfect outing for adventurous visitors who want to discover North Carolina's wild side.

Reserve Partners

The operation and purpose of NCCR/NCNERR is divided into three distinct sectors: education, research, and stewardship. Each individual branch is devoted to fulfilling that aspect of the program, under the guidance of the Reserve manager and according to the management plan.

In addition, the reserve holds a variety of management partners who are crucial to the maintaining and advancement of one or more of these divisions.

  • The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) provides national leadership and strategic direction, and works with state and coastal resource managers to develop systems of marine protection and management.
  • The National Estuarine Research Reserve System (NERRS ) is a national network of protected areas established for long-term research, education, and stewardship. Essentially a partnership program between NOAA and the coastal states, the NERRS protects more than one million acres of estuarine land and water/.
  • The state partner of the North Carolina Coastal Reserve is the North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources. (DENR) DENR is the lead stewardship agency for the preservation and protection of North Carolina's outstanding natural resources. The organization, which has offices from the mountains to the coast, administers regulatory programs designed to protect air quality, water quality, and the public's health.
  • The North Carolina Division of Coastal Management (DCM), in conjunction with DENR, works to protect, conserve, and manage North Carolina's coastal resources through an integrated program of planning, permitting, education and research. DCM carries out the state's Coastal Area Management Act, the Dredge and Fill Law, and the federal Coastal Zone Management Act in the 20 coastal counties.
  • The University of North Carolina at Wilmington has had a longtime partnership with The North Carolina Coastal Reserve and has provided administrative and staffing support for the Reserve since 1989. This partnership with UNCW also allows for collaboration with faculty from UNCW's Biology, Marine Biology, and Environmental Studies departments. Faculty, graduate, and undergraduate students conduct research projects on the Reserve's southern sites and NCCR staff consult with faculty on site management and coastal resource issues.
  • The Carolina Estuarine Reserve Foundation (CERF) is a non-profit organization that works exclusively to support the preservation, development, and cooperation of the NCCR and NCNERR for charitable, educational, and scientific purposes. CERF is a voice to speak on behalf of the Reserves and works to sustain and increase funding for the Reserve programs.

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Information on State Reserves

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