Weeks Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve
Weeks Bay NERR. Photo by The Conservation Fund
Located about 40 miles south of Mobile, Alabama, Weeks Bay NERR encompasses more than 6,500 acres—of which nearly 5,000 are water. It is part of the National Estuarine Research Reserve System, a system that protects more than 1.3 million acres across the United States. One of the primary goals of the reserve is to restore degraded wetland systems in order to improve wildlife habitats and water quality within the estuary. It also offers public access for educational and recreational opportunities.
The Fund preserved 820 acres of coastal wetland habitat located within the acquisition boundary of Weeks Bay NERR—the largest addition since its designation as a reserve in 1986.
This addition offers both wetlands and forests that serve as winter havens for various migratory birds, including the prothonotary warbler and other declining neotropical species.
But saving our outdoor resources is about more than just buying land. In order for conservation to last, it needs to make economic sense. The 820 acres that have been added to the reserve not only protect critical habitat for birds but also support the local economy. “This accomplishment will not only provide long-term restoration opportunities to benefit these important coastal wetland habitats, but it will enable public recreation for the citizens of Baldwin County and the State of Alabama,” said Walter Ernest, IV, Executive Director of the Weeks Bay Foundation. “The public-use provided will also support the local economy through activities such as birding, which accounts for more than $600 million in spending within the state.”
“Protecting this property has been a priority for the Weeks Bay NERR for many years, and we are proud to assist in making this a reality.” said Ray Herndon, Regional Director for The Conservation Fund.