NOAA 99-R425
Contact: Theresa Shearer


BILOXI, Miss. – The Grand Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve was formally designated today as the nation's 24th reserve of the National Estuarine Research Reserve System, the U.S. Commerce Department's National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and Mississippi Department of Marine Resources announced.

Sen. Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) delivered the keynote address at the ceremony at Point O' Pines; other speakers included Rep. Gene Taylor (D-Miss.), Mississippi Lt. Gov. Ronnie Musgrove, Mississippi Secretary of State Eric Clark and Commerce's Deputy Assistant Secretary for Oceans and Atmosphere Sally Yozell.

As part of NOAA's National Estuarine Research Reserve System, the Grand Bay Reserve is operated by Mississippi's Department of Marine Resources and managed in partnership with NOAA. The National Estuarine Research Reserve System was established under the Coastal Zone Management Act of 1972.

The Grand Bay Reserve is located in eastern Jackson County between Pascagoula, Miss., and the Alabama state line, and includes approximately 18,400 acres of Mississippi Sound, coastal bay, expansive saltwater marshes, maritime pine forest, pine savanna and pitcher plant bogs. It represents the north_central Gulf of Mexico as a local, regional and national center for estuarine conservation, research, education and public interpretation.

"The Grand Bay Reserve gives the public the opportunity to learn about Mississippi's unique and diverse coastal resources," said DMR Executive Director E.G. Woods. "By dedicating this reserve now, we are ensuring a pristine coastal environment for future generations to use and enjoy."

"The designation of Grand Bay as a National Estuarine Research Reserve means that Mississippi is part of a national system that is committed to sustaining healthy coasts and understanding our coastal and estuarine environment," said Yozell. "Being part of a national system also provides Mississippi with the support needed to implement long-term research, resource protection and educational goals."

The Department of Marine Resources is dedicated to enhancing, protecting and conserving marine interests of the state by managing all marine life, public trust wetlands, adjacent uplands and waterfront areas to provide for the optimal commercial, recreational, educational and economic uses of these resources consistent with environmental concerns and social changes.

The National Estuarine Research Reserve System is a network of protected areas established to improve the health of the nation's estuaries and coastal habitats by developing and providing information that promotes informed resource management. The reserve system is administered by NOAA's National Ocean Service, Office of Ocean and Coastal Resource Management.