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Narragansett Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve Website
News Release
RI Department of Environmental Management
235 Promenade St., Providence, RI 02908
(401) 222-2771 TDD/(401) 222-4462
For Release: July 18, 2001
Contact: Gail Mastrati 222-4700 ext. 2402
Stephanie Powell 222-4700 ext. 4418

Slated for Addition to the Narragansett Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve

PROVIDENCE - Governor Lincoln Almond today announced that the state has entered into a purchase-and-sale agreement to acquire Dyer Island. The 28-acre parcel off the coast of Portsmouth will be added to the Narragansett Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve.

"Dyer Island is a significant acquisition for the State of Rhode Island," said Almond. "The site hosts a unique habitat, and will be an asset for research activities in the Narragansett Bay reserve that are vital to the long-term health of the Bay and our quality of life."

The Department of Environmental Management (DEM) will purchase Dyer Island for $551,200 from Dyer Straits, Ltd. of Portsmouth. "We are pleased to see that Dyer Island will be preserved in its natural state forever," said David A. Rooney, Commodore of Dyer Straits, Ltd. and a Newport CPA.

Funding for the purchase includes $251,200 from the state's 1998 open space bond fund and $300,000 from an anticipated grant from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

The island has a peak elevation of just 13 feet and is completely overwashed during hurricanes. Surrounded by shallow water, the island is vegetated with shrubs and contains one of the very few unditched salt marshes in Narragansett Bay. The island also is one of the very few sites in the state that is home to nesting oystercatchers, one of the rarest shorebirds in Rhode Island.

According to Roger Greene, DEM's manager of the Narragansett Bay reserve, Dyer Island will be open to boaters after the purchase is completed in September, but the parcel will remain undeveloped and will be used principally for research. "The pristine nature of the saltmarsh complex on the island makes it extremely valuable as a reference site as the state moves forward with salt marsh restoration projects in other coastal areas," he said. "The acquisition and incorporation of Dyer Island into the reserve promises to enhance our ability to protect and understand the ecology of Narragansett Bay."

The Narragansett Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve currently spans 4,259 acres including more than 60 percent of Prudence Island, all of Hope Island, and all of Patience Island. It features more than 17 miles of shoreline, including extensive saltmarshes, fringe marshes, cobble shores, and sandy beaches. Freshwater habitats include streams, wooded swamps, and a kettle hole pond. The Reserve manages approximately 2,353 acres of upland habitats: fields, deciduous woods, evergreen woods, brushland, and a portion of Prudence Island's unique upland "desert" habitat.

The Narragansett Bay reserve is one in a national system of 25 estuarine reserves protecting more than one million acres of upland, freshwater wetland, salt marshes, intertidal areas, and subtidal areas.

The Narragansett Bay reserve is also a participant in a national system-wide water quality and meteorological monitoring program. This provides long-term scientific data on the status and trends of environmental indices at all 25 reserves, nation-wide. This data is collected and stored electronically every 30 minutes. All reserves report their data to the national central data management office.

Scientific monitoring at the Narragansett Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve during the past year, in addition to water quality and meteorological monitoring, included: terrestrial plants, shorebirds, sea mammal sightings, estuarine invertebrates, horseshoe crabs, mosquito control, shallow-water fish, waterfowl, nesting colonial wading bird, and deer populations.

Research was conducted in the following areas: the role of nutrient loading on marsh plant community structure (Brown University); tick-borne diseases affecting humans and transmitted by several species of ticks (Harvard University, School of Public Health); density-dependent effects of grazing on the success of eelgrass plants (URI Graduate School of Oceanography); biogeographic influence on zonation in marsh plants driven by interspecific competition (Brown University, funded by the National Institute of Global Climate Change); biological control of deer ticks (URI); ecology of cobble beaches (Brown University); sediment dynamics in tidal marshes (University of Maryland); eelgrass health and eutrophication (University of New Hampshire, Cooperative Institute for Coastal and Estuarine Environmental Technology); and tick ecology (University of Connecticut).

For more information about the reserve, visit the DEM website at, and click on "related links" on the topics page.


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