BALD HEAD ISLAND, NC – The Village of Bald Head Island recently became the second community in North Carolina to join Audubon International’s Sustainable Communities Program. It is the 13th community in the US to work with Audubon International to move toward environmental, economic, and social sustainability.
“The experience of Bald Head Island is defined by our unique environment and natural assets, and this program will help continue our long history of putting the needs of the natural ecology of the Island ahead of other interests,” said Mayor Andy Sayre. “The Sustainable Communities Program will help us achieve effective stewardship of our waterways, unique maritime forest, indigenous wildlife and sensitive beaches, which are vital to our future.”
The Sustainable Communities Program serves as a framework to merge economic and social considerations with the protection and enhancement of a community’s environmental characteristics. Audubon International acts as a catalyst for citizen-driven planning and community actions, and facilitates partnerships with governmental agencies, businesses, academic institutions, and other organizations that provide local support and assistance to reach the goals envisioned in the community. Working in this way, Bald Head Island will take a big picture approach to community growth and environmental protection.
“Bald Head Island is doing a great job of being proactive in the face of increasing changes and challenges. As a coastal community with 14 miles of beaches, the Village has a particularly important role in protecting water quality and the wide array of animal and plant species that make the Island their home,” said Joanna Nadeau, Associate Director of Environmental Programs at Audubon International. “The Sustainable Communities Program will help the Village tackle those challenges and plan for the future in a way that fosters a vibrant local economy while maintaining a healthy environment. We want to harness the best of what Bald Head Island is today, and plan for the best of what it can be tomorrow.”
The southernmost of North Carolina’s cape islands, Bald Head Island is located just one hour from Wilmington, NC. This barrier island at the mouth of the Cape Fear River is reachable only by ferry. Bald Head Island has a vibrant summer population of more than 8,000 visitors with a permanent, year-round residency of about 200. The Village and its partners, which include Bald Head Island Conservancy, work closely on projects to preserve this subtropical environment which is a haven for a wide array of wildlife, including nearly 200 species of birds, dolphins, loggerhead turtles, alligators, deer, foxes, and an amazing variety of fish. Amid the Island’s 12,000 acres, 10,000 untouched acres of beach, marsh and maritime forest preserves and intimate neighborhoods respect the natural beauty of the surroundings. In addition to the natural landscape, residents and guests can also enjoy a recently renovated golf course certified by the Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary System, fitness and tennis facilities, swimming pool, dining, and many other world-class amenities.
There are three stages in Audubon International’s multi-year certification process, during which Bald Head Island will complete an assessment, define a long-term community vision, choose sustainability indicators as a mechanism for fostering action and measuring success, and implement its plan. The plan covers 15 focus areas, and members must choose timelines and measurable goals. After completing a vision plan and reporting progress on chosen goals, members of Audubon International’s Sustainable Communities Program are eligible for certification and designation as an Audubon International Sustainable Community.