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Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve

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Located at the northern end of the Ten Thousand Islands on the Gulf Coast of Florida, the Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve represents one of the few remaining undisturbed mangrove estuaries in North America. The Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve is managed by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection's Coastal Office in cooperation with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and encompasses two aquatic preserves: the Rookery Bay Aquatic Preserve and the Cape Romano - Ten Thousand Islands Aquatic Preserve.

Rookery Bay Reserve is located adjacent to Naples, one of the fastest growing metropolitan areas in the state, and is ideally suited as a regional hub for education and research on estuaries. The mission of the Rookery Bay Reserve is to provide a basis for informed coastal decisions, working in partnership with local communities to promote coastal stewardship.

Counties: 
Collier
Location: 
300 Tower Road
Naples, FL 34113
Managed Location Contact: 
Keith Laakkonen
Phone: 
Total Acreage: 
110000.00
Managed-Regulated: 
Managed
Receives State Funding: 
Yes
State Owned: 
Yes
History: 

The Little Marco Settlement was established in the early 1880s, shortly after the Homestead Act began encouraging Americans to spread out across the country and carve out their piece of paradise. Located along the banks of Henderson Creek and Hall Bay, from Shell Island to Little Marco Island, dozens of homesteads formed this waterfront community that pre-dated the city of Naples. People primarily made a living off the richness of the estuary, catching fish, harvesting shellfish and growing small plots of winter vegetables. 

In the 1960s, with farms, buildings, roads and canals springing up across coastal Collier County, residents started to take notice that the once pristine bays and estuaries were showing the effects of development upstream. A number of grassroots efforts to "save Rookery Bay" resulted in the designation of the Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve in 1978.

Public Access: 

Rookery Bay Reserve is primarily accessible by boat, with opportunities for primitive camping, fishing, nature trails, geocaching and other compatible activities. A marked paddling trail exists at the mouth of Henderson Creek. A primitive ramp at the end of Shell Island Road allows for small-vessel access into the reserve (use at your own risk). 

View a map showing access opportunities as well as restrictions in certain locations.

Archaeological Resources: 

Several Calusa mound complexes are protected within the Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve’s 110,000 acres. 

Wildlife Habitat Description: 

An amazing world exists within the 110,000 acres of pristine mangrove forest, uplands and protected waters of Rookery Bay. Where rivers and streams meet the sea, a unique habitat is formed. A myriad of wildlife, including 150 species of birds and many threatened and endangered animals, thrive in the estuarine environment and surrounding upland hammocks and scrub found within the reserve.

Habitat-Wildlife Type: 
Animal
Aquatic Preserves
Areas of Critical State Concern
Bay Swamp
Beach
Beach Nesting Birds
Bird Rookery
Blackwater River
Endangered-Threatened
Estuary
Forested
Hardwood Hammock
Hardwood Swamp
Invasive
Lionfish
Manatee
Mangrove
Marine-Aquatic
Mixed Hardwood Pine Forest
Outstanding Florida Waters
Python
Salt Marsh
Saltwater Crocodile
Saltwater
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Last Modified:
October 25, 2017 - 2:03pm

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