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Grand Bay Reserve Hosts Free Boat Tour of Reserve’s Bays and Bayous in Honor of National Estuaries Day

National Estuaries Day is an annual celebration of the vibrant coastal areas where rivers meet the sea. National Estuaries Day always falls on the last Saturday in September. This year, the staff members of the Grand Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve invite you to participate in a free event honoring these critical, coastal habitats on Saturday, Sept. 24, 2011 from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. The Reserve's headquarters is located at 6005 Bayou Heron Road in Moss Point, Miss.

For the event, participants will first gather at the Coastal Resources Center at the Reserve and learn why estuaries are so important to everyone—not just to those who live in coastal areas. After a brief presentation and a tour of the interpretive center, participants will be treated to a free guided boat tour of the waters of the Reserve including Bayou Heron, Grand Bay, Middle Bay, Crooked Bayou, Bangs Lake, etc. (weather permitting). Captain Benny McCoy, a regional naturalist, and Jennifer Buchanan, the Reserve's education coordinator, will treat you to an enjoyable morning on the water. You will be able to observe a wide variety of wildlife and coastal habitats, so make sure to bring your binoculars and field guides.

Sign up now to have a grand day in Grand Bay! Space is limited on this adventure, so preregistration is highly recommended. To reserve a space, please contact Elise Stephens or Jennifer Buchanan at 228-475-7047 or e-mail Jennifer at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . Families are welcome, but those of you who have very small children should bring your own life jackets.

Here are a few other ways residents and visitors can discover the joys and recreational benefits of Mississippi’s estuaries on National Estuaries Day:

· Take a walk in or paddle through one of Mississippi's Coastal Preserves or the Grand Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve.
· Rent a kayak or canoe and paddle down one of our coastal streams.
· Take a child fishing or beachcombing in or along our coastal waters—Don't forget your fishing license.
· Boat out to one of our nearshore or barrier islands.
· Enjoy a sunrise or sunset walk along the beach.
· Go birding along the water’s edge.

The Reserve is located in southeast Jackson County and includes wetlands and waterways from Bangs Lake to the Alabama state line. A major goal of the Reserve is to provide for research coordination and dissemination of scientific data to the community and local decision-makers to provide sound information on which to base management decisions.

The 18,000-acre reserve is home to several rare plant and animal species and serves as an essential nursery habitat for numerous important commercial and recreational fish species. The Reserve is managed through state-federal partnership between the Mississippi Department of Marine Resources (MDMR) and its local partners: Mississippi Secretary of State’s Office, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Mississippi State University, The Nature Conservancy, The University of Southern Mississippi and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The Reserve's new Coastal Resources Center, located at 6005 Bayou Heron Road near Moss Point, Miss., is open from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday. Please call 228-475-7047 for more information and detailed travel directions, or check out our website at www.grandbaynerr.org.

The Mississippi Department of Marine Resources is dedicated to enhancing, protecting and conserving marine interests of the State by managing all marine life, public trust wetlands, adjacent uplands and waterfront areas to provide for the optimal commercial, recreational, educational and economic uses of these resources consistent with environmental concerns and social changes. Visit the DMR online at www.dmr.ms.gov.

Contact: Lauren Thompson
Phone: 228-523-4053

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