NOAA 99-R413
Contact: Theresa Shearer


The National Estuarine Research Reserve System and the National
Estuary Program are hosting a variety of recreational and educational activities in local communities across the country. The events are being coordinated in celebration of National Estuaries Day on Sat., Oct. 2, 1999, announced the Commerce Department's National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Individual reserves within the National Estuarine Research Reserve System (NERRS) and National Estuary Program (NEP) are tailoring National Estuaries Day festivities to their local communities. The activities will take place from late September through mid-October to highlight the importance of estuaries (areas where rivers meet the ocean) as coastal resources. Some are sponsoring canoe trips, nature walks and bike tours, while others are hosting coastal clean-ups, special exhibits and guest presentations.

National Estuaries Day in an annual autumn celebration that takes place during Coast Weeks. The Center for Marine Conservation kicks off Coast Weeks with the International Coastal Cleanup. National Estuaries Day caps off Coast Weeks by heightening the public's understanding of estuaries as vital components to the world's ecosystem. These unique environments serve as nursery grounds for two-thirds of the fish and shellfish consumed by Americans; improve water quality by filtering
pollutants; act as buffers to protect shorelines from erosion and flooding; and provide essential food and habitat for birds, fish and other wildlife.

Since its inception in 1988, National Estuaries Day has strengthened the
partnership between NERRS and NEP. The two programs protect more than 50
estuarine habitats that have been federally designated as living resources. NERRS is a protected-areas network of federal, state and local partnerships. The program was created with the 1972 passage of the Coastal Zone Management Act. Through linked programs of stewardship, education and research, the 25 National Estuarine Research Reserves within the system enhance informed management and scientific understanding of the nation's estuarine and coastal habitats.

The NEP is part of the Environmental Protection Agency. The program was
established in 1987 to identify, restore and protect nationally significant estuaries of the United States. Unlike traditional regulatory approaches to environmental protection, the NEP targets a broad range of issues and encourages communities to develop common solutions.

Information about specific National Estuaries Day events is available on the
Web at or