Visitors find peace, adventure at Bird Island Reserve

In Your Community: Bird Island reserve
Published: Mar. 28, 2013 at 3:12 PM EDT|Updated: Apr. 3, 2013 at 10:02 PM EDT
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LITTLE RIVER, SC (WMBF) - If you're looking to get away from it all and catch a glimpse of the shoreline the way nature intended, there's a place called Bird Island Reserve along the ocean where you can do just that.

Bird Island Reserve is sandwiched between the Little River Inlet and Sunset Beach.

WMBF News Anchor Michael Maely was invited out to the reserve to meet the people who protect - the Bird Island Stewards - who have been working for decades to preserve this beautiful area.

"They're sort of the eyes and ears on the ground," says Hope Sutton, North Carolina Stewardship Coordinator and Southern Sites Manager.

They're also known as the Bird Island Preservation Society, the grassroots group started to protect development at Bird Island. These volunteers have teamed up with the North Carolina Division of Coastal Management when the state took ownership of the island in 2002.

One the day Michael stopped by the team was hard at work, digging holes to place new signs.

Jim Barber is just one of the stewards coming here for almost 20 years. He says the new signs will make his effort a little more effective.

The undeveloped barrier island between the Little River Inlet and Sunset Beach is almost 1,500 acres, and despite its name, you can get here by foot and you may see much more than birds.

"We've seen deer swimming in the ocean out here and the occasional alligator gets lost, there are foxes and raccoons and of course in the summer there's a major turtle patrol," Jim says.

Hope Sutton adds, "People that come to visit, get to see what a barrier island looks like."

Hope wants visitors to realize how rare the dunes, maritime grassland, shrub forests and marsh area really are. "On a lot of the barrier islands, dunes have been flattened, lawn has been put down so it's just nice that there are some places left like this that people can get that visual of what the natural system looked like."

Natural despite maybe that seemingly out of place mailbox, called the kindred spirit, here for decades.

"It's sort of a unique cultural feature I guess you'd say. A lot of people specifically make the hike down to the kindred spirit's mailbox so they can record their thoughts or their reflections of their experience of being here onto the notebooks which are then in the mailbox," Hope explains.

But there's so much more to do on Bird Island than just reflect. You can spend time kayaking, walking through the marshes and enjoying the outdoors.

You can learn more about the reserve and plan a day trip by visiting the Bird Island Reserve website.

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