If you’re planning on spending the Fourth of July on Masonboro Island Reserve, a research reserve and dedicated state nature preserve, officials urge acting responsibly.
The North Carolina Division of Coastal Management, which manages the barrier island in the Wilmington area, and the New Hanover County Sheriff’s Office are working together to increase public awareness of responsible behavior on the island and encourage public safety.
“Visitor safety is our first priority during the July Fourth holiday at Masonboro Island,” said Braxton Davis, division director in a statement. “Our partnership with the New Hanover County Sheriff’s Office during past holidays has helped to prevent illegal activities and ensure visitor safety. I’m confident that this year will be the same.”
The agencies also remind visitors not to attempt the dangerous swim across Masonboro Inlet. Those who are not fully vaccinated are encouraged to maintain social distancing and wear face coverings in crowded areas while visiting reserve sites.
In the past, large, unofficial gatherings during the July Fourth holiday on Masonboro Island Reserve has resulted in arrests for underage drinking and unlawful behaviors, along with boating violations, accidents and injuries.
Over the last few years there has been a significant decrease in potentially dangerous behavior because of an increase in law enforcement and public outreach ahead of the holiday.
Before visiting Masonboro Island or the other reserve sites, the state recommends reviewing visitor guidelines on the division’s website. Visitors are also expected to engage in responsible use of the site, including carrying out their trash, refraining from damaging natural resources, and keeping in mind the safety of other visitors.