At the direction of Governor DeSantis and to successfully uphold CDC guidance to maximize social distancing and avoid gatherings larger than 10 people, DEP will close all Office of Resilience and Coastal Protection managed lands to the public effective Tuesday, March 24. This follows the cancellation of events and closure of state parks and National Estuarine Research Reserve (NERRs) facilities and education centers to the public earlier this month.
This closure includes state-owned uplands, such as beaches, islands, sand bars and emergent shoals within aquatic preserves. Vessel landings are strictly prohibited.
Unless closed by local or county order, state waters in aquatic preserves are open to recreational or commercial fishing and boating at this time, as long as adequate social distancing is observed.
We appreciate your cooperation and understanding as we work to prioritize the welfare of our communities and staff. We look forward to welcoming you again to our NERRs and aquatic preserves as soon as possible.
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 DEP's Office of Resilience and Coastal Protection, in cooperation with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and includes two aquatic preserves: Rookery Bay Aquatic Preserve and Cape Romano-Ten Thousand Islands Aquatic Preserve.
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.
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.
The Florida Department of Environmental Protection is the state’s lead agency for environmental management and stewardship – protecting our air, water and land. The vision of the Florida Department of Environmental Protection is to create strong community partnerships, safeguard Florida’s natural resources and enhance its ecosystems.