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The National Estuarine Research Reserve System (NERRS) is a network of 28 coastal sites designated to protect and study estuarine systems. Established through the Coastal Zone Management Act, the reserves represent a partnership program between the National Oceanic and Atmosphere Administration (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.
NERRS acknowledges the importance of both long-term environmental monitoring programs and data and information dissemination through its support of the NERRS System-wide Monitoring Program (SWMP). The goal of the SWMP is to identify and track short-term variability and long-term changes in the integrity and biodiversity of representative estuarine ecosystems and coastal watersheds for the purpose of contributing to effective national, regional and site specific coastal zone management. This comprehensive program consists of three phased components: estuarine water quality monitoring, biodiversity monitoring, and land-use and habitat change analysis.
The NERRS research reserves encompass 1.3 million acres of estuaries along the U.S. coastlines.