BALD HEAD ISLAND -- Local scientists are working to let the public know just how important barrier islands are. Without barrier islands like Bald Head Island we'd get hit even harder than we already do by hurricanes. People who work at the island's conservancy want to make sure everyone knows how crucial these islands are. Beautiful beaches, marshes, and forests make up bald head island. It's a popular vacation spot. But it and other barrier islands play a much bigger role. Suzanne Dorsey with the Bald Head Island Conservancy said, "They protect against wind damage from hurricanes, they protect against storm surge, and they protect against wave action." Dorsey is the executive director at the Bald Head Island Conservancy. She and her co-workers plan to open a barrier island study center. Dorsey said, "We need to protect what we have, we need to learn about it and the way that we need to do that is we need to encourage research and education." "If you don't have your barrier islands intact and healthy then the infrastructure on the mainland is going to suffer," Dorsey said. Dorsey says Brunswick County, including the nuclear plant, would suffer the full impact of a hurricane if it weren't for the barrier islands. Locals seem to be pleased about the step forward with the research. Bonnie Ezzelle works on Bald Head Island. She said, "This is just a precious place. There's nothing like it anywhere else and so it makes me feel good that somebody's out there, taking care of it." With climate change on the minds of so many Dorsey says the plans for the new barrier island study center are more important now than ever. "If we want to protect our barrier islands, if we want to make sure we have these beautiful places to come and vacation, to live, but also to protect our coastal communities, we need to make sure that we understand them and that we're doing everything we can to protect them," Dorsey said. Construction of the $2.5 million center is scheduled to begin in the fall. They hope to complete it in 2008.
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