Celebrate the 25th Annual National Estuaries Day – Toast the Coast

This Saturday we celebrate the 25th Annual National Estuaries Day. The purpose of National Estuaries Day, first observed in 1988, is to promote the importance of coastal environments where rivers meet the sea. Nationwide, approximately 110 million people, or more than half of all Americans, live near an estuary and enjoy the many benefits estuaries provide. More than 25% of New Hampshire’s population call the Great Bay and Hampton-Seabrook Estuaries home, more than 375,000 people.
Great Bay Estuary from the sky

Image from gundalow.org

Estuaries provide many benefits to those of us who live, work and play here including jobs in industries like agriculture, commercial fishing, power generation, tourism, shipping, and even brewing and winemaking.  According to the nonprofit Restore America’s Estuaries, coastal counties provide more than half the nation’s gross domestic product and support more than 69 million jobs, or about 40% of U.S. employment.

But estuaries also provide much more than jobs and wages.  They provide habitat for fish, shellfish, shorebirds, waterfowl, and other

Birding on Great Bay's shores
Birding on Great Bay’s Shores
Photo from nature.org

wildlife.  The Great Bay Estuary is particularly important as a wintering area for waterfowl. Aerial surveys done by NH Fish & Game Department indicate that approximately 5,000 birds winter in NH’s coastal waters. Of these, 75% gather on Great Bay. The estuary provides much needed food to build energy for the birds’ long migratory flights. The eelgrass bed habitat is an essential place for juvenile fish and shellfish, including many commercially important species such as lobsters.  The salt marshes and wetlands used by these species also provide coastal residents with protection from hurricanes, nor’easters, and other storms.

It’s important we not only understand the value of estuaries but that we work together to protect these natural treasures for future generations. PREP and our many, many partners work tirelessly on protecting, restoring and managing these fantastic and highly valued ecosystems. Our Comprehensive Conservation and Management Plan lays out 82 different action plans and our State of Our Estuaries Report provides valuable science and monitoring of the current state of our waters and lands. There’s lots you can do to help in this important work – check out these simple tips.

So, how do we celebrate these areas of such rich diversity and life? Well, with a toast of course! PREP along with support from our friends at Smuttynose Brewing Company invites all those who live, work and play in the Seacoast to take a moment and Toast the Coast and Estuary on Saturday. Capture your moment in a photograph and post it up on PREP’s Facebook wall for a chance to win a prize gift basket full of Smuttynose gear and beer. The winner be selected at random from all those submitted online at Facebook.com/PREPCommunity using hashtag #ToastTheCoast.

Use Instagram or Twitter? Use #ToastTheCoast and tag @PREPCommunity

 

We are so lucky to have not one, but two estuaries in our Seacoast region and on this National Estuaries Day we invite you to celebrate, enjoy and join in helping to protect these infinitely fascinating places. Cheers to Estuaries!

PREP is part of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s National Estuary Program, a joint program between local, state and federal agencies established under the Clean Water Act with the goal of protecting and enhancing nationally significant estuarine resources. PREP is supported in part by an EPA matching grant and is housed within the School of Marine Science and Ocean Engineering at the University of New Hampshire.

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