The National Estuarine Research Reserve System welcomes a 29th reserve to our national system. Hawaii’s He‘eia National Estuarine Research Reserve encompasses 1,385-acre of upland forests and grasslands, wetlands, reefs and seagrass beds, as well as the largest sheltered body of water in the Hawaiian Island chain.
“We are so grateful to Senator Schatz, Governor Ige, and the Hawaii Congressional delegation for the critical leadership needed to establish the He‘eia Reserve,” says Rebecca Roth, executive director for the National Estuarine Research Reserve Association. “This reserve will not only serve Hawaii, it will support our nation by delivering actionable science that will help us better manage our estuaries and coasts in ways that support the economy, while protecting people, property, and the environment.”
Located within the Kāne‘ohe Bay estuary on the windward side of O‘ahu, the site includes significant historic and cultural resources. The reserve will be managed in partnership with the State of Hawai‘i through the University of Hawaii’s Hawai‘i Institute of Marine Biology (HIMB).
“It’s our partnerships that make the reserve system successful; we can tap into the strength of the broader reserve system and find innovative solutions to local, coastal challenges,” said W. Russell Callender, assistant NOAA administrator for the National Ocean Service.
“By working closely with HIMB and the state, and bringing scientists, community leaders, educators and the public together, we can preserve some of Hawaii’s significant cultural and natural resources for future generations.”
HIMB will operate the reserve, while NOAA provides national programmatic leadership, guidance and funding. “We are excited about this partnership and the scientific research and practical management opportunities it provides,” said Ruth Gates, Ph.D., HIMB director. “The reserve will benefit our researchers, students, and the community as a whole.”
A public ceremony to commemorate the opening of the reserve is anticipated in the spring of 2017. The He’eia National Estuarine Research Reserve’s management plan is available online, as well as more information about the reserve. A formal notice of the designation will be posted in the federal register.