The University of Wisconsin-Green Bay, in partnership with local and national agencies, is leading efforts to recognize local waters as a national reserve — an important next step in the region’s 30-plus-year effort to protect one of the largest surface freshwater systems on earth.
Upon site selection within the Green Bay estuary, the NERR (National Estuarine Research Reserve) designation would use locally relevant and nationally significant research to address local coastal management issues and help protect the world’s largest freshwater estuary.
The university, along with local officials and representatives of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration are inviting all interested parties to join them to learn more about the NERR designation and what it would mean to the region. A virtual event will be held April 12 at 4 p.m. and it will be repeated April 15 at 7 p.m. Sen. Tammy Baldwin and Rep. Mike Gallagher will take part in the event. There will be a live question-and-answer opportunity at each event.
The NERR designation would help UW-Green Bay and its partners bring in funding — more than $1 million per year — for water-focused scientific research, education, stewardship and training, and would include a visitor center for hands-on and place-based education, lab space, a conference area and a boat launch.
The goal of the Green Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve is to be the most technologically advanced NERR in a network of 29 reserves covering more than 1.3 million acres throughout the United States. The reserve would be non-regulatory, state-owned and managed entity, with program guidance and technical assistance from NOAA.
Estuaries are semi-enclosed areas where the Great Lakes waters mix with waters from rivers, streams and bays. Estuaries are distinctly responsible for filtering sediments and pollutants from rivers and streams, providing cleaner water for humans and wildlife. They carry economic and cultural impact for the region in the forms of providing transportation, recreation, commerce and food.
“Faculty in the natural sciences, computer science, mathematics and statistics, and now engineering will have the opportunity to work collaboratively in designing, developing and utilizing advanced technologies for environmental monitoring, environmental testing, and data management and analysis, while working closely with new community partners like Microsoft that also have similar goals,” said John Katers, dean of science and technology at UW-Green Bay.
Registration for the event and more information is available at uwgb.edu/national-estuarine-research-reserves.