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December 14, 2018

The National Estuarine Research Reserve System (NERRS) comprises a network of 29 coastal sites around the country designated to protect and study estuarine systems with the support of federal and state agencies as well as local communities. Managers of these NERRS from departments of research, education, training, and stewardship came together at the November Annual Meeting hosted by the Mission-Aransas National Estuarine Research Reserve in TX. The meeting served as both a training opportunity and decision-making gathering focused on developing program strategies, and long-and-short-term plans for all the NERRS.

This year’s meeting very effectively integrated representatives from Friends and Foundations groups supporting their local reserves.  I learned an array of best practices that will help the Friends of Rookery Bay support our Reserve. Of all the focus areas during the week-long meeting, a central theme clearly emerged - resiliency and collaboration in the face of natural disasters. Three of the 29 NERRS (Mission-Aransas in TX, Rookery Bay in FL, and Jobos Bay in Puerto Rico) and their surrounding communities sustained significant and widespread damage due to hurricane impacts. Gulf and Atlantic Coast NERRS and their Friends/Foundation groups hope to share best practices and align appropriate resources for future hurricane planning and response/recovery efforts to position the NERRS as even greater assets to their local communities. This will only be accomplished through the joint efforts and resources provided by NOAA, state agencies, and members of our local community.

Here at Rookery Bay, our Reserve wears many hats to benefit our region...Shoreline Protection, Wildlife Nursery, Mangrove Estuary, Outdoor Classroom, Water & Air Filter, Research Site, Storm Surge Mitigator, Recreational Mecca & Cultural Habitat to name a few.  As the Executive Director of the Friends of Rookery Bay, I am committed to raising awareness of and funds for Rookery Bay Research Reserve.  Reserve staff must have access to the all the necessary tools and resources available in order to continue their great work so that our mangrove estuaries protect us from future natural disasters. As the year draws to a close, I ask you to consider a DONATION to the Friends of Rookery Bay to protect YOUR treasured backyard.

Best wishes for a safe and wonderful holiday season and prosperous 2018!

Warm Regards,

Athan Barkoukis, MS
Executive Director
The Friends of Rookery Bay

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