NOAA 99-R408
Contact: Nathalie Porter


Approximately 18,400 acres of tidal marsh, shallow-water open bay, wet pine savanna, and coastal swamp habitats in southeast Jackson County, Miss., have been designated as the Grand Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve, the Commerce Department's National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said today. NOAA Administrator D. James Baker recently signed the paperwork officially designating the reserve.

"We are delighted that the Grand Bay reserve has joined our national network of living laboratories. The research reserve system is a perfect example of how governments and communities can work together to benefit both the environment and people," Baker said. "We're very proud of the estuarine research reserve program, and pleased to welcome the state of Mississippi into the NERR family," Baker said.

Grand Bay is the 24th site in NOAA's nationwide network of research reserves dedicated to the study and preservation of these sensitive and delicate environments where rivers meet the ocean. NOAA administers the national NERR program, but individual reserves are operated by state agencies. The Mississippi Department of Marine Resources (DMR) will oversee the Grand Bay Reserve.

"It is great to be a part of such an outstanding program and to have an area in our state designated as the 24th National Estuarine Research Reserve," said DMR Executive Director E. Glade Woods. "I want to thank all of the federal, state and local agencies and private citizens who have helped make this designation a reality. I also want to give credit to our legislators for seeing the need to preserve and research estuarine systems in Mississippi and elsewhere."

The open water estuarine areas of Grand Bay NERR support extensive productive oyster reefs and seagrass habitats. Some of Grand Bay NERR is already designated as a state estuarine preserve, and other areas are part of a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Grand Bay Savanna National Wildlife Refuge. NERR status opens the door for new federal-state supported research and education to help students, scientists, elected officials, and the general public understand these beautiful, productive, and irreplaceable areas and make better decisions about protecting and managing them.

A dedication ceremony for the Grand Bay NERR will be held later this year. A temporary Reserve office will be located at 6005 Bayou Heron Road in Pascagoula.