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The National Estuarine Research Reserve System is a program of the United States government. The program establishes federal-state partnerships under the Coastal Zone Management Act to create a system of estuarine research reserves representative of the various regions and estuarine types in the United States. The first reserve was established in Oregon in 1974. As of 2008, the program has established 27 reserves.

The National Estuarine Research Reserve System was established by the United States Government to develop a partnership between individual states and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to coordinate the preservation of a network of protected areas spanning the coastal United States. The goal is the establishment of long-term research, education and stewardship of the critical coastal wetlands and estuaries. The partnership program oversees more than one million acres (4,000 km²) of estuarine land, wetlands, and water. This protected areas provides essential habitat for wildlife.[1]

National Estuarine Research Reserves are protected areas representing a spectrum of biogeographic regions of the country, ranging from the pristine to those that have been significantly impacted by human use.[1]

The National Estuarine Research Reserve System is a network of protected areas established for long-term research, education and stewardship. This partnership program between NOAA and the coastal states protects more than one million acres (4,000 km²) of estuarine land and water, which provides essential habitat for wildlife; offers educational opportunities for students, teachers and the public; and serves as living laboratories for scientists.[2]


For thousands of years, coastal and estuarine environments have provided people with food, safe harbors, transportation access, flood control, and a place to play and relax. The pressures on the nation’s coast are enormous and the impacts on economies and ecosystems are becoming increasingly evident. Severe storms, climate change, pollution, habitat alteration and rapid population growth threaten the ecological functions that have supported coastal communities throughout history. As a network of 27 protected areas established for long-term research, education and stewardship, the National Estuarine Research Reserve System has a unique role to play in keeping coastal ecosystems healthy and productive.

The reserve system is a partnership program between the NOAA and coastal states that has protected more than 1.3 million acres (5,300 km²) of coastal and estuarine habitat since the program was established by the Coastal Zone Management Act in 1972. NOAA provides funding, national guidance and technical assistance. Each reserve is managed on a daily basis by a lead state agency, non-profit organization or university with input from local partners. Through careful stewardship, innovative science and education, and relevant training programs, the reserves encourage careful management and protection of local estuarine and coastal resources.

The Coastal Zone Management Act created the reserve system to protect estuarine areas, provide educational opportunities, promote and conduct estuarine research and monitoring, and transfer relevant information to coastal managers. For the next five years, core reserve programs will focus on four priority topics: impacts of land use and population growth; habitat loss and alteration; water quality degradation; and changes in biological communities. The National Estuarine Research Reserve System’s 2005-2010 Strategic Plan articulates how the strengths of the reserve system will be applied to address the major challenges of coastal management.[2]

Program Goals

The program's goals are[3]:

  • ensure a stable environment for research through long-term protection of National Estuarine Research Reserve resources
  • address coastal management issues identified as significant through coordinated estuarine research within the System
  • enhance public awareness and understanding of estuarine areas and provide suitable opportunities for public education and interpretation
  • promote Federal, state, public and private use of one or more Reserves within the System when such entities conduct estuarine research;
  • conduct and coordinate estuarine research within the System, gathering and making available information necessary for improved understanding and management of estuarine areas.

National Estuarine Research Reserves

See also

External links


  1. ^ a b "The National Estuarine Research Reserve System". Retrieved 2007-01-27.  
  2. ^ National Estuarine Research Reserve System Program, website accessed on 15 Feb 2007
  3. ^ [1], Unable to access as of 14 December 2006 to confirm ref


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