National Estuaries Week (NEW) is happening THIS WEEK (September 14th-21st) and we wanted to take the opportunity to help raise awareness for these precious water systems and spotlight our own local estuary and local gem, The South Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve (South Slough NERR)!
Many do not realize the important role that estuaries have in our ecosystem and in our lives. Estuarine ecosystems serve as natural barriers to buffer against storms and floods, absorb and store carbon, and provide critical habitat for commercial and recreational fisheries. The need to protect and restore these critical places has never been more pressing.
If you haven’t had the opportunity to visit South Slough NERR, we urge you to do so! This 5,000-acre natural area located in the Coos estuary on the south coast of Oregon is perfect for families, hikers, kayakers, wild-life watchers and everyone in between.
South Slough encompasses a mixture of open water channels, tidal and freshwater wetlands, riparian areas, and forested uplands and the Interpretive Center is open Tuesday through Saturday from 10 am until 4:30 pm (Closed on State holidays). Trails are open from dawn to dusk every day. Many of their educational and outdoor programs are free or offered at a low cost to cover materials. South Slough NERR is located 4 miles south of Charleston on Seven Devils Road.
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Curious about the importance of our nation’s estuaries? Here are some answers to a few of the FAQs:
What is an estuary? An estuary is a partially enclosed body of water along the coast where freshwater from rivers and streams meets and mixes with saltwater from the ocean. Estuaries are an irreplaceable natural resource that must be managed carefully for the mutual benefit of all who enjoy and depend on them.
Why are they important? Estuarine environments are among the most productive on earth, creating more organic matter each year than comparably-sized areas of forest, grassland, or agricultural land. The tidal, sheltered waters of estuaries also support unique communities of plants and animals especially adapted for life at the margin of the sea. Thousands of species of birds, mammals, fish, and other wildlife depend on estuarine habitats as places to live, feed, and reproduce. Many marine organisms, including most commercially-important species of fish and crab, depend on estuaries at some point during their development. Source: www.water.epa.gov
Are there estuarine environments on Oregon’s South Coast? Yes. The South Slough NERR is located in Charleston Oregon. This 5,000-acre natural area is a place like no other. It encompasses a mixture of open water channels, tidal and freshwater wetlands, riparian areas, forested uplands and open water habitats.
What kind of activities are available here? There are many ways to enjoy the South Slough. Taking an educational class, guided birding, kayaking, attending a native plant workshop, hiking the trails, viewing of the marsh or visiting the Interpretive Center art gallery and seeing works of local painters are just a few of the activities you will find here.
Are there any local events we can participate in? Yes. Stand UP! For the Bay is an event taking place on National Estuaries Day, Saturday, September 28th, 2019 from 9 am to 1:00 pm in downtown Coos Bay. Meet on the boardwalk (across from Visitor Center). Participants will either stand up paddle, canoe, or kayak, in the bay along a route that is designed for ease of travel, with consideration of tide and wind direction. This event includes education activities, food/drink, live music, and a paddle joust event. Click here for more information.
You can also spend the day at South Slough NERR, located at 61907 Seven Devils Road Charleston, OR 97420. Go to www.oregon.gov or call (541) 888-5558 for info.
What is National Estuaries Week? National Estuaries Week (NEW) is an annual event that encourages the public to learn more about our estuaries. Many take advantage of volunteer opportunities and hands-on restoration in their local bay or estuary, participate in a guided walk or boat tour, or simply explore your estuary with family and friends.
To learn more about National Estuaries Week September 14-21, 2019 and ways to help support your local estuaries like South Slough NEER, please visit estuaries.org.