What We Work For

Understanding and protecting estuaries is at the heart of the National Estuarine Research Reserve System’s mission. Through science, outreach, and education, Reserves work to ensure that these cherished places, and the many benefits they provide for coastal communities, are enjoyed for generations to come.

Clean Water

Children playing in tide pools, fishermen landing their catch, kayakers exploring an inlet—the benefits of clean water connect all us of us who live and visit the coast. Good water quality protects public health, supports industries, and sustains fish and wildlife.

Reserves work for clean water by conserving valuable habitats, studying changes in water quality, testing cutting-edge approaches to pollution mitigation, and providing practical guidance and tools for coastal decision makers. The NERRS System-wide Monitoring Program operates 280 stations that track water quality, pollution, and weather across 1.3+ million acres of public land and water.

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NERRS data is used to address hazardous spills, track nutrient piollution, manage shellfish industry operations, and more.

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Healthy Habitats

The whooping cranes that winter at our Mission-Aransas Reserve are amoung the many rare and important species that rely on healthy estuaries and Reserves.

Reserves protect more than 1.3 million acres of coastal and estuarine habitats around the country. Healthy coastal habitats play a central role in the economies and well-being of coastal communities.

Reserves serve as living laboratories where scientists and stakeholders work together to understand how these habitats function and how they respond to the pressures of human activity and climate change.

Through monitoring, training and education, Reserves leverage this science to develop and share best management practices for sustaining healthy habitats nationwide.

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Informed Citizens

Coastal areas are in a time of great change. Populations are growing, development is expanding, and sea levels are rising as the climate shifts. As a result, the management of coastal natural resources has become more complex and the need for solutions to problems is more urgent.

The decisions we make today are shaping the future of our coasts, and their ability to support us, for generations. These decisions are everyone’s business. Reserves work to engage all citizens in exploring, understanding, and supporting coastal environments through citizen outreach, volunteer initiatives, professional training, and educational programs.

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The need to make informed decisions about our changing coasts affect everyone who lives there.

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Prepared Communities

Reserves help communities understand and act on the risks and challenges they face.

Super-sized storms, record floods and droughts, hazardous spills, declining fisheries—environmental disruption is the new normal for America’s coasts.
Reserves are dedciated to helping communities meet these challenges and emerge better positioned to manage the impacts of a changing coast.

The Reserve’s national network amplifies local science and expertise so it supports communities nationwide. As the challenges facing the coasts intensify, Reserves are committed to being more resilient and ready to be the partners coastal communities have relied on for more than 40 years.

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What We Work For