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 in collaboration with and service to surrounding communities. Established through the Coastal Zone Management Act, this partnership program between NOAA and the coastal states supports ecosystem health and the interconnectedness of people and the environment. A broad range of perspectives are incorporated, including Indigenous peoples and tribal nations.

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.