Providing the science needed for today and tomorrow

Overview Bipartisan Infrastructure Law Designation Process Legislation Management Plans and Site Profiles National Estuaries Week NERRS Funding Summary Regulations Strategic Plan PDF For New Employees


The National Estuarine Research Reserve System is a network of 30 coastal sites designated to protect and study estuarine systems. Established through the Coastal Zone Management Act, the reserves represent a partnership program between NOAA and the coastal states. NOAA provides funding and national guidance, and each site is managed on a daily basis by a lead state agency or university with input from local partners.

The research reserves cover nearly 1.4 million acres of estuaries and are focused on the following:

  • Stewardship. Each site undertakes the initiatives needed to keep the estuary healthy.

  • Research. Reserve-based research and monitoring data are used to aid conservation and management efforts on local and national levels.

  • Training. Local and state officials are better equipped to introduce local data into the decision-making process as a result of reserve training efforts.

  • Education. Thousands of children and adults are served through hands-on laboratory and field-based experiences. School curriculums are provided online.

Topics covered include nonpoint source pollution, resilient communities, habitat restoration, and invasive species. To understand more about why estuaries are important, visit What Is an Estuary? To learn how you can help support the research reserves, visit the National Estuarine Research Reserve Association website.

Get the handout to learn more.