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The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) today announced a grant totaling $550,000 to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection for the research and management of the Guana Tolomato Matanzas National Estuarine Research Reserve in St. Augustine, Fla. NOAA is an agency of the Commerce Department.

This grant will support operations, program management and oversight, education, monitoring projects, and resource management and stewardship in the Estuarine Research Reserve. In addition, the reserve’s education program and its research and monitoring of water quality and weather parameters will be supported by this grant.

“We are constantly working to improve our understanding and management of coastal ecosystems like those of Florida’s Guana Tolomato Matanzas National Estuarine Research Reserve,” said retired Navy Vice Adm. Conrad C. Lautenbacher, Ph.D., undersecretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere and NOAA administrator. “This grant reinforces the commitment of NOAA and the Bush Administration to Florida’s environment by helping our state partner better manage an area that provides so many aesthetic, recreational and economic opportunities.”

Designated in 1999, the Guana Tolomato Matanzas National Estuarine Research Reserve is the nation’s 25th reserve. It encompasses approximately 55,000 acres of salt marsh and mangrove tidal wetlands, oyster bars, estuarine lagoons, upland habitat and offshore seas in Northeast Florida. The reserve contains the northern most portion of mangrove habitat on the U.S. East Coast.

The reserve’s coastal waters are important calving grounds for the endangered Northern right whale. Manatees, wood storks, Roseate spoonbills, bald eagles and peregrine falcons find refuge in the reserve. The reserve is geographically separated into a northern section where the Tolomato and Guana rivers mix with the waters of the Atlantic Ocean, and a southern section along the Matanzas River, extending from Moses Creek to Pellicer Creek. The unique Matanzas Inlet is one of the last natural, unaltered inlets on Florida’s Atlantic coast.

In fiscal year 2003, NOAA has awarded more than 475 grants totaling more than $204 million to members of the academic, scientific and business communities to assist the agency in fulfilling its mission to study the Earth’s natural systems in order to predict environmental change, manage ocean resources, protect life and property and provide decision makers with reliable scientific information. NOAA goals and programs reflect a commitment to these basic responsibilities of science and service to the nation for the past 33 years.

The Commerce Department’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is dedicated to enhancing economic security and national safety through the prediction and research of weather and climate-related events and providing environmental stewardship of our nation’s coastal and marine resources. To learn more about NOAA, please visit

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NOAA’s National Marine Sanctuary Program:

Guana Tolomato Matanzas National Estuarine Research Reserve:

NOAA Administrator, Vice Adm. Conrad C. Lautenbacher, Ph.D.: