An Outer Banks Sanctuary Takes the Lead

High waters of the Currituck Sound at the Audubon Sanctuary docks in Corolla.
High waters of the Currituck Sound at the Audubon Sanctuary docks in Corolla.

The Pine Island Hunt Club is now the Donal C. O’Brien Audubon Center in Corolla. At one time it was one of the premier hunting lodges on the Currituck Sound, it’s holdings stretching from the Currituck Sound to the Atlantic Ocean.

Before NC 12 connected the Currituck Banks with the rest of the world, to drive to Corolla, everyone had to pass through the guard gate at the south end of the property. The guard house is still there on the south end right on the Dare/Currituck County line.

There’s a wide, hard-paced path that used to be the dirt road everyone took to get drive north. It’s a wonderful walk now, and perfect for any bike that has fat tires.

Forty years ago it was donated to the Audubon Society by the Slick family, the last owners of the property. For the past 10 years, Audubon has been solely responsible for maintaining the grounds.

The administrative center is in a beautiful old building—the 1913 clubhouse. 

There was a gathering at that clubhouse recently of northeastern North Carolina elected officials, representatives of the Governor and Audubon North Carolina executives.

It was an interesting meeting, bringing together a variety of ways of viewing how and what government should do. But what was particularly interesting was the agreement—not consensus, but agreement—that concerted action was necessary to mitigate rising waters.

It had rained very hard the day before the meeting. The ground was saturated and at the docks where kayak tours are launched, Currituck Sound had flooded the road leading to it. 

Robbie Fearn, Sanctuary Manager explained what was happening.

“One of the big challenges that has really not been addressed about barrier islands is that you have the ocean coming up on one side and the sound on the other side. The water table sits on this pocket of salt water underneath. As that come up, every time it rains, like it did buckets last night, that water has no place to go,” he said.

To mitigate some of those effects, Audubon will be being a very large living shoreline project on the property soon. Other plans were also discussed that will keep the facilities viable for some time.

The Outer Banks is a beautiful place to live or visit. Come stay with us at Joe Lamb, Jr. & Associates and discover for yourself what life on a sandbar is all about.

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