Celebrate National Estuaries Week
The Lake Superior National Estuarine Research Reserve encourages you to get out and explore the St Louis River estuary. Estuaries are unique and important natural systems that provide untold benefits to people and animals.
Estuaries are defined as ecosystems along the nation's saltwater and Great Lakes coasts where chemically different bodies of water mix to create wetlands, bays, lagoons, sounds, or sloughs. These ecosystems are not only home to unique plant and animal habitats, but they provide communities with food, recreation, jobs, and coastal protection. Of the 32 largest cities in the world, 22 are located on estuaries.
"Estuaries give back to our community in many ways, including improving the quality of our water and reducing floods," says Reserve Manager Erika Washburn. "But estuaries do even more than that. Our estuary is an 'outdoor classroom,' providing opportunities to learn and have fun in a natural environment. That's something we do with local schools through our Rivers2Lake program year round."
The Reserve is celebrating the event by launching a campaign to reduce plastic and trash that travels through rivers and streams to Lake Superior. A billboard on US Hwy 2 was launched last week to bring awareness to the growing issue. A traveling marine debris exhibit that encourages individuals to take action was on display at UW-Superior's Yellowjacket Union on September 23.
The Lake Superior Reserve is part of a national system of Reserves that protects more than 1.3 million acres of coastal land and water. Each of the 28 sites around the country receives support from the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and local partners. The Lake Superior Reserve is led by the University of Wisconsin-Extension, in partnership with UW-Superior. The research and environmental monitoring performed at each Reserve plays an important role in protecting environmental health, both locally and nationally.
National activities this week include an Estuaries Week photo contest, sponsored by NOAA. Amateur photographers submitted photos in four categories: Work, Play, Learn, and View and the winner will be announced soon on NOAA's website. Coastal Governors, including Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, have also issued statewide Proclamations for National Estuaries Week. International Coastal Clean-Up was September 17, and the National Parks Service has their annual take a 4th grader to a national park for free on Wednesday, Sept. 24. More information can be found for all of these events through Twitter: #EstuariesGO, #EstuariesWeek and #EstuaryLove.