DNR Finalizes Chesapeake Bay National Estuarine Research Reserves Management Plan

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5-Year Plan Calls for Boundary Expansion, New Environmental Education Facility, & Expanded Science and Outreach

Annapolis, Md. — Maryland’s Chesapeake Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve (CBNERR) recently completed a five-year management plan that sets goals to expand the boundaries of Maryland’s three reserves, develop an environmental education center, and increase environmental stewardship and sustainable living through scientific research, environmental literacy and coastal management training for local decision-makers and stakeholders.

“The Chesapeake Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve’s updated plan represents a commitment to research, education and stewardship that is exceptionally valuable to protecting and restoring Maryland’s, and the nation’s estuaries,” said Frank Dawson, Maryland Department of Natural Resources Assistant Secretary. “Our coastal training program plays a crucial role in providing scientific information to Chesapeake Bay decision-makers as we work to best address and better plan for population growth, land development and climate change.”

The Chesapeake Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve in Maryland has three sites —Otter Point Creek in Harford County, Jug Bay in Prince George’s and Anne Arundel Counties, and Monie Bay in Somerset County. Partnering with local governments and non-profit conservation organizations, CBNERR hopes to add 1,345 acres Jug Bay Estuarine Research Reserve by incorporating the Jug Bay Wetlands Sanctuary in Anne Arundel and Prince George’s County, as well as adding 32 acres to Otter Point Creek in Harford County.

CBNERR’s top priority at the Monie Bay Reserve is to increase opportunities for public access and environmental education by purchasing property for an environmental education center. Currently students in Somerset County, where Monie Bay is located, have no access to any private or public environmental education center. In addition to creating a new environmental education facility, CBNERR aims to increase effective environmental education to underserved populations so that more Marylanders change their personal behavior and serve as leaders to promote sound, informed, science-based decision-making throughout the community. CBNERR will also continue to work to increase environmental literacy with teachers, students, and communities to increase their connection to nature so that they will take action better its protection and restoration.

Many aspects of the 1990 management plan have been realized, most notably, the completion of the Anita C. Leight Center in Harford County, which provides classrooms, lab space, exhibit space and office space, and has allowed the implementation of research, education and volunteer activity at the Otter Point Creek component of the Reserve.

One of 27 National Estuarine Research Reserves around the nation, CBNERR protects and restores approximately 5,000 acres of forest, farm and wetlands; conducts research and monitoring; educates visitors; runs coastal training programs for decision-makers; and enables affordable public recreation opportunities. The Reserve’s mission is to improve coastal resource management by increasing scientific understanding of estuarine systems and making estuarine research relevant, meaningful, and accessible to managers and stakeholders.

Cutting edge research performed at the Reserves helps to protect and restore the Chesapeake Bay. Recent research includes exploring methods for reducing excess nutrient pollution from agricultural waste and investigating the environmental impacts and potential mitigation of sea level rise.

CBNERR is a Federal-State-Local partnership program, and receives funds annually from NOAA, DNR and Harford County. Operation of the Reserve would not be possible without local partners who assist by providing land, facilities, staff and volunteers, including Anne Arundel County (Jug Bay Wetlands Sanctuary), Maryland-National Park and Planning Commission (Jug Bay Natural Area), Friends of Jug Bay, Harford County (Anita C. Leight Estuary Center), and the Harford County Chapter of the Izaak Walton League of America (Bosely Conservancy).

For more information visit http://www.dnr.state.md.us/bay/cbnerr/.