Senate Declares National Estuary Week!

Senate Declares National Estuary Week!

 Narragansett Bay Reserve, Rhode Island.

Some excellent news from Capitol Hill: the Senate unanimously approved a resolution designating the week of September 15 through 22, 2018, as National Estuaries Week.

Sponsored by U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (Rhode Island) and 26 others, the bipartisan legislation recognizes the importance of coastal and estuarine regions to our national economy, and reaffirms the Senate’s continued support for protecting and restoring these vital resources.

“Estuaries are a big part of life in Rhode Island. They sustain our economy, from fishing to tourism to hospitality.  They protect us from storms, and serve as nurseries for all manner of marine and other wildlife. And they are the backdrop to so many happy memories with our families and friends,” said Whitehouse, who serves as co-chair of the Senate Oceans Caucus and also sponsored legislation to reauthorize the National Estuaries Program in 2016.

“We are so grateful to the efforts of senator Whitehouse and his colleagues for recognizing how important it is to work together to protect and manage estuaries as a nation,” says Rebecca Roth, NERRA’s executive director. “The benefits that Rhode Island receives from estuaries are experienced in every coastal state.”

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), estuary regions cover only 13 percent of the land area of the continental United States, but make up nearly half of the country’s economic output. However, these vital resources considerable threats due to changing land use, pollution, and the impacts of climate change. Programs like the NERRS and the National Estuaries Programs are on the front lines of understanding how these vital resources function and conserving them for future generations.

Congressional Champions Affirm Support for the NERRS

Congressional Champions Affirm Support for the NERRS

White pitcher plants at Alabama’s Weeks Bay Reserve. Thanks to Lucy Jacobson for this visual reminder of what makes our Reserves such special places.

For over 40 years, reserves have supported healthy estuaries and communities nationwide, and we encourage you to support the NERRS program.

A big “thank you” to the 25 members of Congress who came together to send that message to Department of Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross today. Their collective letter makes it clear how much they value estuaries and the role that Reserves play in protecting these precious resources and the communities that depend on them. We are particularly grateful to Congressman Bradley Byrne of Alabama for taking the lead on inviting his colleagues in the House of Representatives to sign this letter of support for the NERRS.

“Many members of Reserve friends groups joined NERRA in asking house members to sign the letter,” observes Rebecca Roth, NERRA’s Executive Director. “Along with NERRA President Lisa Auermuller, I am also deeply appreciative of them and the many members of the NERRS family for their commitment to their places, as well as to increasing the awareness of this stellar national program.”

Reserves Welcome Congressional Champions

Reserves Welcome Congressional Champions

California Congressman Jared Huffman (above left) enjoyed a sunny hike on Marin’s Bullet Hill last June with San Francisco Bay Reserve Manager Mike Vasey and the Reserve’s Coastal Resilience Specialist Stuart Siegel. Representative Huffman took in the view, learned about this critical habitat, talked about flooding, and was lucky to spot a San Pablo Bay Song Sparrow.
Senator Maggie Hassan (above left) joined our Great Bay Reserve’s Steve Miller for a tour of New Hampshire’s Great Bay.  “The Great Bay is one of our state’s many treasured natural resources, playing a critical role in our economy and our high quality of life,” Senator Hassan said. “Unfortunately the future of Great Bay is threatened by the very real and serious impacts of climate change. I am committed to working across the aisle to combat climate change and protect one of our state’s most important economic engines—our environment.”

If you are ever visiting New Hampshire, trust us, you want a tour of the bay from Steve. He knows every inch of it!

NERRA & Audubon: Birds of a Feather

NERRA & Audubon: Birds of a Feather

Like other Reserves, our Maryland Reserve’s Jug Bay site provides habitats for marsh birds that are “secretive”—and irresistible to birding enthusiasts. The Reserve is working with their local Audubon chapter to host Representative Dutch Ruppersberger (D-MD) for a visit this spring. Photo courtesy of the Jug Bay Wetlands Sanctuary.
Reserves are a favorite spot for casual birders and stalwart twitchers alike, so it’s no surprise that National Audubon is teaming up with NERRA to conserve the habitats that are so near and dear to all of our hearts. This fledgeling national partnership builds on efforts of local Audubon chapters to speak up for Reserves like Florida’s Rookery Bay and Maryland’s Chesapeake Bay. Both of these Reserves will work with their local Audubon groups to host site visits from Representative Mario Díaz-Balart (R-FL) and Representative Dutch Ruppersberger (D-MD). Audubon also will partner with other NERRS sites like our San Francisco Bay Reserve to host “bird walks” for other Members of Congress.

“The National Audubon Society values its partnership with the NERRS because together we can encourage Members of Congress from both sides of the aisle to visit Reserves and get outside and in nature,” says Dr. Karen Hyun, Vice President for Coastal Conservation at the National Audubon Society. “This drives home awareness of the importance of Reserves to research, education, and stewardship of the coasts, including the shorebirds and seabirds, and the places they need to survive.”

Congressional Champions