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GLIN==> National Estuaries Day - a Fresh(water) Idea

September 18, 2008

For Immediate Release

Contact: Becky Sapper, becky.sapper@ces.uwex.edu<mailto:becky.sapper@ces.uwex.edu> or 715/685-2652

National Estuaries Day - a Fresh(water) Idea

Across the country communities will be celebrating National Estuaries Day on September 27, 2008. Countless National Estuaries Day activities occur from canoe trips in Washington and estuary clean-ups in North Carolina to guided estuary tours in Texas. While our ocean coasts are dotted with activities - residents in Wisconsin can also celebrate the day by recognizing our nation's freshwater estuaries on the Great Lakes.

"Freshwater estuaries occur at the lower reaches of a river where water draining the land mixes with water from one of the Great Lakes," according to Becky Sapper, UW-Extension's Freshwater Estuary Outreach Coordinator. While saltwater estuaries are affected by lunar tides, freshwater estuaries are affected by wind tides and the Lake's soup bowl-like sloshing called the "seiche" effect.

The dynamic mixing and changing water levels within a freshwater estuary help to create habitat that is both a nursery and dining room for diverse populations of fish, wildlife, and waterfowl that rely on freshwater estuaries for shelter, food, and spawning areas.

They provide many benefits to people, too.  "These shallow coastal wetlands slow run-off and act like filters to reduce erosion and sedimentation. They provide places for hunting, fishing, recreation, and tourism," states Sapper. Freshwater estuaries and coastal wetlands are an important part of what defines the high quality of life for people living in the Great Lakes Basin.

Wisconsin has reason to celebrate when it comes to recognizing the importance of its freshwater estuaries. Wisconsin Governor Jim Doyle recently nominated the St. Louis River freshwater estuary as a National Estuarine Research Reserve (NERR). The NERR program is a non-regulatory federal and state partnership administered by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). The program provides federal funding and technical support to advance estuary research, education and stewardship.

Running between Superior, Wisconsin and Duluth, Minnesota, the St. Louis River is the largest U.S. tributary to Lake Superior and is widely recognized as a system of national significance.  Numerous Wisconsin and Minnesota-based academic institutions, government agencies, and advisory and action committees have played a critical role in telling the St. Louis River story. The proposed NERR designation will continue to add new chapters to that story and share it with others in the Great Lakes region and across the nation.

NOAA is currently evaluating Wisconsin's nomination. Once the nomination is approved, a management plan for the Wisconsin NERR will be developed. Designation of the Lake Superior NERR will occur in approximately two years.

So, on September 27th, remember that National Estuaries Day is not only for those who live near the ocean. It's also a day to celebrate our Great Lakes freshwater estuaries, and a great reason to visit one of these freshwater gems that help make Wisconsin's coastline sparkle.

To learn more about National Estuaries Day see www.estuaries.gov<http://www.estuaries.gov> or contact Becky Sapper, Lake Superior Freshwater Estuary Outreach Coordinator, 715/685-2652 becky.sapper@ces.uwex.edu<mailto:becky.sapper@ces.uwex.edu>.


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