NOAA06-R444
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Ben Sherman
5/5/06
NOAA News Releases 2006
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NOAA, STATE OF TEXAS, AND UNIVERSITY OF TEXAS ANNOUNCE
NEW MISSION-ARANSAS NATIONAL ESTUARINE RESEARCH RESERVE
Southeast Texas Site is Nation’s 27th Reserve

In a ceremony tomorrow at Port Aransas, Texas, federal, state and local representatives will officially designate 185,708 acres of marshes, mangroves, open water and coastal prairie in southeastern Texas as the Mission-Aransas National Estuarine Research Reserve. The new reserve is located in Aransas and Refugio counties, about 30 miles northeast of Corpus Christi and includes wetland, upland and marine environments typically found in the western Gulf of Mexico.

This is the culmination of a four-year process, from site selection through the environmental impact study and the development of a comprehensive management plan. The Mission-Aransas site was proposed by Texas governor Rick Perry, and will be managed by the University of Texas at Austin Marine Science Institute.

“As the first reserve in the western Gulf of Mexico, Mission-Aransas adds significant value to the National Estuarine Research Reserve System and broadens the opportunities to study, understand, and manage America’s coastal ecosystems,” said retired Navy Vice Adm. Conrad C. Lautenbacher, Jr., Ph.D., under secretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere and NOAA administrator.

The NOAA estuarine reserve system comprises 27 locations in 21 states and Puerto Rico that are protected for research, education, outreach, and stewardship. Mission-Aransas will be the third largest reserve in the system, which includes more than 1.3 million acres.

“The University of Texas is an established research institution and this will help it further advance its research capabilities,” stated U.S. Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison (Texas) who will be the dedication ceremony's keynote speaker. “This national research site will provide Texas and the nation with critical information to preserve and protect our coastlines, educate the public on estuarine issues and promote stewardship and management of our coastal habitats.”

"The legacy we leave our children and our grandchildren is the condition of the Earth beneath our feet. A big part of that legacy is learning more about the delicate wetlands that buffer our continent. Nowhere is that more true in our corner of the world than in the Mission-Aransas National Estuarine Research Reserve System," said U.S. Representative Solomon R. Ortiz (Texas - 27th). "The climate and habitat changes we detect today will teach us how to protect our coasts tomorrow. Protecting wetlands, our shoreline and the habitat can protect our safety and welfare, so learning about how to do so is in the best interest of all of us."

“Estuarine Reserves are living laboratories,” said University of Texas president William C. Powers. “The University of Texas is proud to add its considerable expertise to the important work of the National Estuarine Research Reserve System.”

"The western Gulf of Mexico has a number of unique features, including coastal prairies, oak savannahs, and extensive seagrass and black mangrove communities that will help broaden the understanding of estuarine ecosystems nationwide," said Mission-Aransas reserve 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."

This reserve, the first in this bio-geographic area, will attract scientists and students from across the nation including up to two national graduate research fellows funded annually by NOAA. NERR designation ensures access to federal 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 System is part of the National Ocean Service. Estuarine research reserves are managed by state agencies and/or universities in partnership with NOAA, which provides funding and national program guidance.

NOAA, an agency of the U.S. Department of Commerce, 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, 61 countries and the European Commission to develop a global network that is as integrated as the planet it observes, predicts and protects.

On the Web:

NOAA: http://www.noaa.gov

NOAA’s National Ocean Service: http://oceanservice.noaa.gov

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

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

University of Texas Marine Science Institute: http://www.utmsi.utexas.edu/manerr