Spotlight: National Estuarine Research Reserves
Estuaries—where rivers meet the sea
First, check out this map to find a National Estuarine Research Reserve (NERR) near you! There are 28 National Estuarine Research Reserves around the country. Reserves range in size from the 366,100-acre Kachemak Bay NERR on the western coast of the Kenai Peninsula in Alaska to the 573-acre Old Woman Creek NERR near Huron, Ohio.
What You’ll Find
Some of the most productive ecosystems in the world! Reserves offer essential wildlife habitat, educational opportunities for students and teachers and living laboratories for scientists. Although Americans set aside the estuaries for long-term research, education and stewardship, the reserves also offer recreation such as swimming, boating, fishing, wildlife viewing and bird watching. NERR’s along with National Marine Sanctuaries are two categories of coastal lands and waters managed and protected under the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
Make Sure You
Take advantage of recreation opportunities across the NERR system! Contact your local NERR to learn more about what each site offers. For example, if you are visiting Naples, Florida, stop by the Environmental Learning Center at Rookery Bay NERR and explore their paddle trails. If you happen to be in the San Diego, California area you may want to visit the Tijuana River NERR to participate in a bird watching walk and learn why these wetlands are designated as ‘internationally important.' At the Great Bay NERR, an inland estuary fed by the tidal waters of the Piscataqua River that forms the boundary between Maine and New Hampshire, you can partake in a variety of hiking and geocaching opportunities outlined in their Passport to Great Bay. In the Texas Coastal Bend, 30 miles northeast of Corpus Christi, be sure to check out Mission-Aransas NERR and their variety of educational public programs, including Mini Explorers, Junior Ecologists, Mud Flat Safaris, and Beach Seines.
Get involved with estuaries! National Estuaries Day is always the fourth Saturday in September. This year it is on September 29th—check out the variety of National Estuaries Day events going on around the country. There are many opportunities the rest of the year as well, so if you live near an estuary you can volunteer, become a friend of the NERRS, or participate in educational programs.
Teachers—bring your students to learn valuable lessons! Contact an NERR educator today to learn how you can enjoy the outdoors in one of the many estuaries around the country.