Through a collaboration between The Nature Conservancy, a generous donor and the Dataw Island Owners' Association, Oak Island’s 33 acres of relatively undisturbed maritime forest surrounded by tidal marsh are now protected in perpetuity by the Open Land Trust. Situated in Beaufort County on Jenkins Creek which flows into St. Helena Sound, The Nature Conservancy granted a conservation easement to the Open Land Trust prior to selling the property to the Owners' Association that will use the Island as a low-impact nature preserve. At one time, 18 homes were planned for Oak Island, but now this hummock island’s natural habitat and picturesque beauty as seen from Warsaw Island and Jenkins Creek can remain as is – forever.
With the exception of 2.6 acres of freshwater wetland, almost the entire parcel is comprised of mixed hardwood and pine forests. Many areas are consistent with the structure of a quality maritime forest that has been only manipulated by natural occurrences. The vegetation is typical of maritime forest habitat and includes, but is not limited to live oak, water oak , eastern red cedar, loblolly pine, sabal palmetto, saw palmetto, yaupon holly, wax myrtle, saltbush, Spanish moss, and resurrection fern. The island’s elevation ranges between 5 and 10 feet above sea level.
Tidal saltmarsh habitat encompasses Oak Island on all borders of the 33.4 acre island. The vegetation located within this habitat type includes but is not limited to saltmarsh cordgrass, black needlerush, salt grass, sea oxeye, and glasswort.