Many do not realize the important role that estuaries have in our ecosystem and in our lives. Estuarine ecosystems serve as natural barriers to buffer against storms and floods, absorb and store carbon, and provide critical habitat for commercial and recreational fisheries. The need to protect and restore these critical places has never been more pressing.
National Estuaries Week 2017 (September 16th-23rd) is the perfect opportunity to promote awareness for these precious water systems and spotlight our own local estuary, The South Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve (South Slough NERR).
Here are some answers to a few of the FAQs regarding our nation’s estuaries .
What is an estuary? An estuary is a partially enclosed body of water along the coast where freshwater from rivers and streams meets and mixes with salt water from the ocean. Estuaries are an irreplaceable natural resource that must be managed carefully for the mutual benefit of all who enjoy and depend on them.
Why are they important? Estuarine environments are among the most productive on earth, creating more organic matter each year than comparably-sized areas of forest, grassland, or agricultural land. The tidal, sheltered waters of estuaries also support unique communities of plants and animals especially adapted for life at the margin of the sea. Thousands of species of birds, mammals, fish, and other wildlife depend on estuarine habitats as places to live, feed, and reproduce. Many marine organisms, including most commercially-important species of fish, depend on estuaries at some point during their development. Source: www.water.epa.gov
Are there estuarine environments on Oregon’s South Coast? Yes. The South Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve (South Slough NERR) is located in Charleston Oregon. This 5,000 acre natural area is a place like no other. It encompasses a mixture of open water channels, tidal and freshwater wetlands, riparian areas, forested uplands and open water habitats.
What kind of activities are available here? There are many ways to enjoy the South Slough. Educational classes, guided birding, kayaking, attend a native plant workshop, hike the trails, view of the marsh or visit the Interpretive Center art gallery and see works of local painters are just a few of the activities you will find here.
What is National Estuaries Week? National Estuaries Week is an annual event that encourages the public to learn more about estuaries. Many take advantage of volunteer opportunities and hands-on restoration in their local bay or estuary, participate in a guided walk or boat tour, or simply explore your estuary with family and friends.
Are there local events I can participate in? Yes. Stand UP! For the Bay is an event taking place on National Estuaries Day, Saturday, September 30th 2017 from 9am to 2:30pm in downtown Coos Bay. Meet on the boardwalk (across from Visitor Center). Participants will either stand up paddle, canoe, or kayak, in the bay along a route that is designed for ease of travel, with consideration of tide and wind direction. This event includes live music as well as a paddle board jousting event. Click here for more information.
You can also spend the day at South Slough NERR, located at 61907 Seven Devils Road Charleston, OR 97420. Go to www.oregon.gov or call (541) 888-5558 for info.