BALD HEAD ISLAND, NC (WWAY)– A long time tourist destination could now be a travel spot for researchers as well. The Bald Head Island Conservancy announced the grand opening for their Barrier Island Study Center today.
“Eighty-five percent of the East and Gulf Coast are protected by a barrier island, and 15 percent of coastlines throughout the world,” Bald Head Island Conservancy Executive Director Suzanne Dorsey said. “The solutions that are found here can be applied throughout the country and throughout the world.”
It’s a project that has been nearly 13 years in the making.
The Conservancy on the island hopes the center will host scientists and university students from around the globe.
“This is going to be very, very valuable,” said William Smith, a professor at Wake Forest University. “Right here on the coast, in particular in this kind of housing system, the way Bald Head Island does it.”
The $2.5 million dollar facility was funded in it’s entirety by the community of Bald Head Island. Donors hope this will serve as a learning place for generations to come.
“We’re going to be teaching university level classes, we’re going to be educating children of all ages and it’s going to be a fantastic resource,” donor Dick Johnston said.
This new facility includes a wet lab and dry lab for research, a touch tank, a media center and a public library.
Students and scientists alike will be able to study sea turtles, the marshes, the beach and much more right on the island.
The Bald Head Island Conservancy says that research can have a big impact.
“When you have an intact, healthy barrier island system, then your mainland infrastructure will be protected,” Dorsey said.
The Bald Head Island Conservancy also says the center is the nation’s first community-based facility of it’s kind.