Written authorization is required for organized events, commercial activities and other special activities or uses within the boundaries of any Reserve site and not included in the primary uses of research, education, and compatible traditional uses (see 15A NCAC 07O .0203, eff. February 1, 2022).
Application for a Special Activity Authorization can be made by completing the application form. Applications should be submitted a minimum of 30 days prior to and up to one year in advance of the activity or use. Special Activity Authorization applications will be reviewed by Reserve staff in the order received. Activities or uses must comply with the Reserve Use Requirements found in section 15A NCAC O70 .0202 and the dedicated nature preserve letters of allocation under the Nature Preserves Act (G.S. 143B Article 2 Part 42). Special Activity Authorizations for ongoing activities will expire on December 31 and must be applied for each year.
The Coastal Reserve sites are managed under specific rules designed to protect the primary purposes of the sites as outdoor laboratories and classrooms. Some activities that might be allowed at public parks, such as amplified sound, are not allowed at Reserve sites as they are disruptive to wildlife and other visitors. If you are not sure whether an activity or use is in compliance with the rules, contact the respective site manager before filling out an application.
The intention of the special activity authorization process is to provide the opportunity for compatible uses or activities that are directly related to the near-pristine natural settings of the Coastal Reserve sites. Because the sites are nature preserves and due to the protections associated with these natural areas, activities that are not related to nature or dependent on being conducted in natural surroundings are not generally considered to be compatible. If your activity could just as easily be held in a more conventional event space (such as a park, a grassy field, or a parking lot), it may not be the right fit for receiving an authorization.
If your activity would benefit from nearby facilities such as bathrooms, a fresh water supply, or trash cans, there are likely other public area options that would be a better fit. Coastal Reserve sites are primarily natural laboratories, outdoor classrooms, and nature preserves and offer minimal or no infrastructure or support facilities. In addition, the Coastal Reserve sites are remote enough to increase the level of complexity for logistics such as transport and safety. Outdoor events are challenging enough without having to consider tides and access limitations based on water depth or wind direction. By exploring similar nearby sites such as recreational areas and public parks before applying for a special activity authorization from the Reserve, you may find a location that better serves your needs and provides simpler logistics. The local site manager can help by answering questions about the specific site logistics and may have suggestions for alternate sites to consider.
As public properties, the sites of the Coastal Reserve are open to the public year-round. In addition, the primary purposes of the sites are to serve as natural laboratories and outdoor classrooms and to provide for compatible traditional uses such as fishing, hunting, navigation, and nature-based recreation. As a result, the Coastal Reserve is not able to provide exclusive access and use of any portion of the sites to individuals or companies seeking special activity authorization. Other users must be able to access and use the site throughout any authorized special activity. It is also important to keep in mind that wildlife may be present at any time because the sites are nature preserves.
Written authorization does not eliminate the need to obtain any other federal, state, or local authorization, or to abide by regulations adopted by any federal, state, or local agency. A written authorization only authorizes uses or activities that conform to the terms contained in the authorization or in applicable federal, state, and local rules and existing laws. Violation of the terms and conditions of a written authorization, including engaging in any activities or uses not expressly authorized, shall result in revocation of the authorization by the Division of Coastal Management. Violations shall be subject to any other civil and/or criminal penalties prescribed by law.