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The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) today announced a grant of $571,000 to the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources for research and management of the ACE Basin National Estuarine Research Reserve, located south of Charleston in Colleton, Charleston, Beaufort and Hampton counties. NOAA is an agency of the Commerce Department.

The grant will support operations, program management and oversight, education, monitoring projects, and resource management and stewardship in the estuarine research reserve. The research will enhance and protect the many uses of the reserve by monitoring water quality, studying the abundant plant and animal species, including the endangered species of shortnose sturgeon, loggerhead sea turtles, and bald eagles, and evaluate the overall health of the ACE Basin ecosystem. The funding will help continue protection of the natural beauty, abundant wildlife and unique cultural heritage of the area. The Reserve is managed by the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources.

“We are constantly working to improve our understanding and management of coastal ecosystems like those of South Carolina’s ACE Basin 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 South Carolina’s environment by helping our state partner better manage an area that provides so many aesthetic, recreational and economic opportunities.”

ACE Basin was designated a federal reserve in 1992 and covers more than 134,710 acres. ACE Basin is one of the largest undeveloped estuaries on the East Coast. It is named for the Ashepoo, Combahee and Edisto rivers, which meander past cypress swamps, historic plantation homes, old rice fields and abundant tidal marshes to meet at South Carolina's biologically rich St. Helena Sound.

Commercial fisherman harvest bountiful supplies of shrimp, crabs, oysters, clams and finfish each year in the ACE Basin. Recreational fishermen ply the mudflats for spottail bass, flounder and shrimp, while paddlers enjoy the natural beauty of a maze of salt marsh creeks and the black waters of the rivers.

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

ACE Basin National Estuarine Research Reserve:

National Estuarine Research Reserve: