2017 marks a milestone year for the Friends of Rookery Bay: we are celebrating 30 years of working to support environmental education, research and stewardship needed to sustain the Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve. The Friends started as a small, volunteer community-based organization in 1987, with the goal of engaging our local community in the important work of conserving this special place. Thirty years later, with 500 active members, the Friends of Rookery Bay remains committed to this mission. Why does this matter?
Oceanographer Dr. Sylvia Earle, winner of the 2009 TED Prize and known around the world for her leadership on ocean conservation, makes it clear. After a lifetime spent studying our oceans, Dr. Earle’s conclusion is that the single most important action we can undertake for the future of our oceans, and our planet, is to protect these special marine places. Dr. Earle visited Rookery Bay nearly 20 years ago when she was serving as the Chief Scientist for the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration, and I had the opportunity to fly over Rookery Bay with her as she photo documented our own special part of the planet.
Rookery Bay and the Ten Thousand Islands are unique and essential to our quality of life here in Southwest Florida. The Reserve’s 110,000 acres are the western extent of the internationally significant Everglades ecosystem, providing critical nesting and feeding grounds for hundreds of species of birds, fish and wildlife. Ask any local fishing guide, marina or ecotour operator, and they will tell you what we know: that the Rookery Bay Reserve supports hundreds of jobs and generates millions of dollars each year for our local economy.
If you value the experience of watching manatees feeding in shallow seagrass beds, catching a snook among the roots of red mangroves, enjoying a walk along Keewaydin Island’s beach or kayaking through tunnels of mangrove forest, then you already understand why we do this work.
Please join us in 2017 as we celebrate a milestone of working together to protect this special place, and consider contributing to our mission in any way that you can.
Gary Lytton, Executive Director
Friends of Rookery Bay