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National Estuaries Week

Voluntary conservation improves the health and quality of the water that flows downstream.  So NRCS works with landowners and other partners to install conservation practices on private lands that lead to cleaner water downstream, including the nation’s estuaries.

This week, NRCS is joining Restore America’s Estuaries and partners to celebrate National Estuary Week to promote conservation of private, agricultural lands for cleaner water flowing into estuaries, better overall health for fisheries and other wildlife and sustainable production of food and fiber.

Estuaries are created when the inflows of both sea water and fresh water combine, creating an incredibly productive ecosystem with high levels of nutrients in both the water column and sediment. These natural wonders protect landowners from flood waters and provide important buffers that protect water quality by filtering runoff.

NRCS provides technical and financial assistance to landowners wanting to improve water quality through practices such as nutrient management, erosion control, irrigation efficiency, and conservation tillage. These practices all lead to cleaner water flowing downstream into our nations waterways.  The Great Bay is one of the nation's major estuaries.  "The voluntary work of private landowners in New Hampshire is leading to healthier waterways downstream, including The Great Bay,” State Conservationist Rick Ellsmore said.  Through landscape initiative work, NRCS is helping provide cleaner water with great overall downstream benefits to shoreline ecosystems and wildlife habitat.

To find out how you can install conservation practices on your land that will not only benefit you, but your local ecosystem, contact your local NRCS field office.

How NRCS Helps Estuaries

  • NRCS works with agricultural producers to reduce nitrogen, phosphorus and sediment loads, improve water quality and quantity and restore and protect wetland, riparian and wet meadow habitat.
  • Farm Bill programs such as EQIP, WHIP, WRP, GRP and CSP offer many conservations practices that help restore and protect estuarine environments and surrounding lands.
  • Conservation not only benefits estuarine habitats but also benefits agricultural productivity. Stop by your local NRCS field office to learn more.

How Estuaries Benefit Agriculture

  • Estuaries protect landowners from flood waters and provide important buffers that protect water quality by filtering runoff.
  • 75 percent of commercial species depend upon estuaries for their primary habitat, spawning grounds, and nursery areas.
  • Estuaries provide essential habitat for over 75 percent of our nation's commercial fish catch. Commercial and recreational fishing, boating and tourism also provide more than 28 million jobs. Fishing alone generates $111 billion yearly in economic activity.

General Info on Estuaries

  • The inflows of both sea water and fresh water provide high levels of nutrients in both the water column and sediment, making estuaries among the most productive natural habitats in the world.
  • Estuaries produce more food per acre than the most productive mid-western farmland;
  • Estuaries are a critical source for much of our ocean life. Their bounty forms a natural wonder that offers the more than 50% of Americans who live near estuaries, and the millions who visit, a wealth of recreational opportunities.