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FOR RELEASE: October 14, 2011

ROOKERY BAY RESERVE AWARDED $815,000 GRANT FOR 3-YEAR WATER STUDY
--Non-regulatory approach aims to resolve local freshwater allocation issues--

NAPLES -- Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve (RBNERR) in Naples, Florida was selected by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to receive $815,000 for a water use and allocation study in collaboration with engineers and other scientists. The announcement was made on Wednesday by the National Estuarine Research Reserve System's (NERRS) Science Collaborative granting program.


The research project is designed as a science-based, non-regulatory approach to resolving local freshwater allocation needs for the Rookery Bay estuary. Findings from this project will be used to guide water management efforts and improve water quality in Henderson Creek, the primary source of fresh water for Rookery Bay. It will also investigate water usage issues and conservation opportunities.
"We are excited about this award," said Gary Lytton, RBNERR director. "Outcomes of this important research initiative will inform critical decisions about the delivery of needed fresh water to help sustain the health of the Rookery Bay estuary while also meeting the needs of the community."


RBNERR, managed by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection's Office of Coastal and Aquatic Managed Areas in cooperation with NOAA, encompasses 110,000 acres of coastal lands and waters between Naples and Everglades National Park. Due to water control structures and other barriers, fresh water from land has been redirected through canals resulting in unnatural levels of salinity and other conditions in Henderson Creek and nearby locations including Naples Bay.


Improving water quality and creating healthier environmental conditions for Rookery Bay directly supports Collier County's economy by sustaining habitats critical for the success of sport fishing, ecotourism and recreational boating.


The grant entails working with engineers, biologists and social scientists from the private sector and academia over the next 3 years. The goal of the project is to adaptively manage the fresh water flowing into Henderson Creek to provide adequate water for the environment and the people who depend on the same ecosystem for their water supply. The project will also help stakeholders understand how the community values freshwater resources and create opportunities to collaborate and discuss the issues related to water needs.
Twenty-eight Research Reserves around the nation were invited to apply for this grant. Of 19 proposals submitted, seven were funded including RBNERR's proposal, which included input from Atkins of North America, Inc. and Nova Southeastern University. The NERRS Science Collaborative is administered by the University of New Hampshire through a cooperative agreement with NOAA.
RBNERR serves as an outdoor classroom and laboratory. For more information visit www.dep.state.fl.us/coastal or www.nerrs.noaa.gov.

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