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~Plan establishes future research and management goals for the Reserve and associated managed areas~

TALLAHASSEE Governor Rick Scott and the Florida Cabinet today approved the 10-year management plan for Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve, a 110,000-acre site of forests, uplands and waters in Southwest Florida.

The Rookery Bay Reserve management plan, which was last updated in 2000, accounts for changes of the past decade and provides for adaptive management in the future. Like the 2000 plan, this update combines the management of the Reserve, Rookery Bay Aquatic Preserve, and Cape Romano – Ten Thousand Islands Aquatic Preserve under a single management plan. The inclusive management of these sites within the Reserve strengthens the purpose of the property as a platform for research and education and provides for efficient and effective use of state resources.

"Rookery Bay Reserve -- one of Florida’s three National Estuarine Research Reserves – has proven to be a leader in innovation. They routinely are the creator of programs that grow into statewide standards, such as the Green Industries Best Management Practices  for landscape professionals,"  said Kevin Claridge, Director of the DEP Florida Coastal Office. "Additionally, Rookery Bay started the Coastal Training Program – bringing science to coastal decision makers- which is now a national focus in the entire system of 28 NERRS. We are proud of their accomplishments and look forward to their future."

In this plan, the Reserve characterizes each of its issues and delineates unique goals, objectives and strategies that set the framework for meeting the challenges presented by the issues. Objectives include reducing non-native, invasive plant and animal species within the managed lands; conducting education, training, and outreach programs for targeted audiences; and supporting visiting investigators conducting research in the reserve.

Some of the Reserve's management goals include:

  • ensuring user experiences are environmentally sustainable and consistent with natural and cultural resource protection
  • improving the conservation of native biodiversity
  • enhancing the preservation of Rookery Bay Reserve’s cultural resources through credible science resulting in informed management practices
  • minimizing adverse environmental impacts from land use while restoring ecosystem services
  • increasing the community’s level of awareness, knowledge, skills, and sense of value for the coastal environment

“This is a strategic plan focusing on priority issues, that directly addresses both the needs of the natural resources within the Reserve and the resiliency of our local community.” said Gary Lytton, Reserve Director. “The economic impact associated with sustaining the environmental health of the Reserve is both locally significant and of great importance to the residents of Florida.”

Rookery Bay Reserve was established in 1978 as a partnership between the state of Florida and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The reserve is one of 28 research reserves operating across the nation. DEP’s Florida Coastal Office manages Rookery Bay Reserve along with 41 aquatic preserves, two other National Estuarine Research Reserves and the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. The Florida Coastal Office’s programs and activities are designed to help Floridians better understand and conserve the state’s resources through research, education and conservation.  For more information about the reserve, please visit  For more information on DEP’s Florida Coastal Office, visit