NOAA 2004-R496
Contact: Ben Sherman

NOAA News Releases 2004
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NOAA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, will host a series of three public meetings on the proposed designation of a new National Estuarine Research Reserve in Texas. The meetings will take place Nov. 16-17, 2004, in Austin, Port Aransas and Rockport, Texas, and lead to the development of a draft environmental impact statement. NOAA is an agency of the U.S. Department of Commerce.

Through federal-state partnerships, NOAA administers a network of 26 National Estuarine Research Reserves that represent various types of estuarine systems. The reserves are protected for long-term research, monitoring, education and stewardship to help advance management of the nation’s coasts. The protected areas are owned and managed by states, with input from the local communities.

The state of Texas began the process to nominate the Mission-Aransas Estuary as a National Estuarine Research Reserve in 2001. Site selection is an extensive process that includes advice from public and private experts in estuarine science and input from the public. Texas submitted the site nomination document in March 2004. In September 2004, NOAA accepted the site nomination package and began working with the University of Texas Marine Science Institute to develop a draft management plan and draft environmental impact statement.

Located near Corpus Christi, the Mission-Aransas Estuary constitutes a relatively intact and minimally disturbed area that is very representative of western Gulf of Mexico estuaries with a high diversity of habitat types. The proposed site has unique geologic and hydrological features that will attract a broad range of research interests from many scientific disciplines.

“The estuarine reserves are platforms for scientists to conduct research and for students to gain hands on experiences,” said Laurie McGilvray, chief of NOAA’s Estuarine Reserves Division. “The proposed Texas reserve would expand our national reach into an unrepresented biogeographic area and offer the local community an incredible resource to help them monitor their estuary, provide educational programs and advance the state of knowledge around this important natural resource.”

NOAA will continue to work with the University of Texas Marine Science Institute and the local community to determine the proposed reserve’s boundaries, research and education program priorities and management issues. NOAA designation does not impose new federal restrictions on the protected area. The NOAA designation process for the proposed Texas reserve is expected take 12 to 18 months.

Meeting dates and addresses:

Tuesday, Nov. 16, 2004 at 10:00 a.m.
Hearing Room E2.014 in the Capitol Extension
Texas State Capitol
1400 Congress Ave., Austin, TX, 78701
(A parking garage is located at 12th Street and San Jacinto Boulevard.)

Wednesday, Nov. 17, 2004 at 9:00 a.m.
Auditorium in Visitors Center
University of Texas Marine Science Institute
750 Channel View Drive
Port Aransas, TX, 78373
(Parking is available at Marine Science Institute Visitor Center.)

Wednesday, Nov. 17, 2004 at 4:00 p.m.
Saltwater Pavilion
Rockport Beach Park
810 Seabreeze Drive
Rockport, TX, 78383,
(Parking is available at Rockport Beach Park.)

NOAA is dedicated to enhancing economic security and national safety through research to better understand atmospheric and climate variability and to manage wisely our nation's coastal and marine resources.

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NOAA’s National Estuarine Research Reserve System: