Last privately-owned, undeveloped barrier island on NC coast is now protected forever

(Photo: Coastal Land Trust)

WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — The North Carolina Coastal Land Trust has purchased Hutaff Island, the last privately-owned undeveloped barrier island in North Carolina.

This 2.5-mile long beach and the associated 1,000 acres of saltmarsh and island hammocks comprise one of the best examples of a natural, dynamic barrier island system in North Carolina.

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Located in southern Pender County, the island serves as the first line of defense against storms for local communities, and provides critical habitat for threatened species like sea turtles and beach-nesting birds, as well as rare plants.

The purchase of this iconic property was possible because of the generosity of conservation philanthropist Tim Sweeney and the commitment to conservation by the landowners, the Hutaff and McEachern families, along with the partnership between the Coastal Land Trust and Audubon North Carolina.

The Hutaff and McEachern families, who have owned the island since 1925, are “thrilled the island will be conserved and remain as a natural habitat forever,” according to a statement shared by the families.

“Hutaff Island is a classic barrier island landscape that supports the full complement of plants and animals that depend on North Carolina’s barrier islands, and it is equally important to people that live on and visit our coast,” said Walker Golder, Executive Director of the Coastal Land Trust.  “We are so very grateful to the Hutaff and McEachern families and the partnership that made this possible.”

Hutaff Island will be protected in perpetuity by the Coastal Land Trust and managed in partnership with Audubon North Carolina to ensure the sustainability of its iconic landscape, rich natural habitats, plant communities and wildlife.