NOAA 2006-R419
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Ben Sherman
3/17/06
NOAA News Releases 2006
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FINAL ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT STATEMENT PUBLISHED
IN DESIGNATION PROCESS FOR 27TH NATIONAL ESTUARINE RESEARCH RESERVE

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's National Estuarine Research Reserve System has made public, through publication in the Federal Register, the final Environmental Impact Statement and Management Plan for the proposed Mission-Aransas National Estuarine Research Reserve in Texas.

Publication of the EIS sets in motion the final steps for official designation of the 27th member of the National Estuarine Research Reserve System. The new Mission-Aransas NERR will be located in Aransas and Refugio counties about 30 miles northeast of Corpus Christi on the Texas coast. A designation ceremony is scheduled for May 6 in Port Aransas, Texas.

“Estuarine Reserves are living laboratories,” said John H. Dunnigan, NOAA assistant administrator for National Ocean Service. “They provide essential wildlife habitat and great opportunities for discovery and research for the public, teachers and students and scientists.”

The Mission-Aransas site was proposed by Texas Gov. Rick Perry in March 2004, after a two-year site selection process. The reserve will be managed by the University of Texas at Austin's Marine Science Institute.

“The western Gulf of Mexico has a number of unique features, including coastal prairies, oak mottes and extensive black mangrove communities that will help broaden the understanding of estuarine ecosystems nationwide, said site manager Paul Montagna. “Research and monitoring here will help coastal decision makers manage these vital resources on a foundation of sound science, and it will help to educate the next generation of marine scientists and decision makers. This is good for Texas and good for the nation.”

Mission-Aransas includes approximately 185,708 acres and would be the third largest reserve in the system. The reserve includes wetland, upland and marine environments typically found in the western Gulf of Mexico.

Laurie McGilvray, chief of NOAA’s Estuarine Reserves Division, said. “The Texas reserve will expand our national reach into an unrepresented biogeographic area. It offers 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.”

The reserve will attract scientists and students from all over the nation to study at the site, including up to two national graduate research fellows funded annually by NOAA. NERR designation ensures access to funding for research and education programs, environmental monitoring and science-based training programs for coastal managers and decision-makers.

NOAA’s National Estuarine Research Reserve Systems, which is part of the National Ocean Service, includes protected estuaries covering more than a million acres in 21 states in that share 11 coastal regions with similar plants, animals and climate. Estuarine research reserves are managed by state agencies and/or universities in partnership with NOAA which provides funding and national program guidance.

NOAA is an agency of the U.S. Commerce Department. 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 the nation’s coastal and marine resources. Through the emerging Global Earth Observation System of Systems (GEOSS), NOAA is working with its federal partners and nearly 60 countries to develop a global monitoring network that is as integrated as the planet it observes.

On the Web:

NOAA: http://www.noaa.gov

NOAA National Ocean Service: http://www.oceanservice.noaa.gov

NOAA NERRS Program: http://www.nerrs.noaa.gov/welcome.html

Proposed Mission-Aransas NERR: http://www.nerrs.noaa.gov/Texas/welcome.html