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Get Invlolved Logo Protect an Estuary
Things You Can Do to Protect Estuaries     

[S]ometimes when we wonder [why], we can make things begin to happen".
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Estuaries require everyone’s help and hard work to keep them clean and safe. There are many things you can do to help protect estuaries and to conserve the valuable natural resource in estuarine ecosystems.

Click here for 10 ways to protect estuaries

Click here to download a colorful poster of created by the Georgia Coastal Education Group on how you can make a difference

Or, click the links below to find even more ways to protect estuaries!

Around the House
  • Use lawn fertilizer sparingly, or not at all. Follow product directions carefully. You'll keep it from washing into our streams and waterways.
  • Leave grass clippings on the lawn. Clippings decompose and are efficient, natural fertilizers.
  • Cut grass to proper height. A little more height is healthy, leading to a deeper root system and less erosion.
  • Use native plants. Gardening and landscaping with plants native to your area reduces the need for watering and fertilizing your garden.
  • Think before you pour. Too many hazardous products flow from drains through sewage plants into coastal rivers and estuaries.
  • Keep septic systems working properly. Pump every three years to assure proper working condition.
  • Use lawn care products sparingly, or not at all. Always follow the directions carefully. If these products wash into streams, roadside ditches or street gutters, it can affect plants and animals far from your home.
  • Create nontoxic pesticides. A bit of soap and water added to strained chili pepper powder does the job, and keeps harmful chemicals from ending up in nearby waterways.
  • Explore safe alternatives to harsh household products. Baking soda or table salt, for instance, are safe substitutes for abrasive cleaners.
  • Clean up after your pets. Animal waste adds to run-off, making water unhealthy.
  • Walk, bike, carpool, use public transportation. Use your car less by combining errands.
  • Use less electricity. Conserve water and lessen fossil fuel consumption.

Along the Waterfront

  • Protect waterside trees and shrubs. These trees and shrubs are a protective gift along the water's edge and should not be cut, pruned or altered.
  • Plant buffer strips. Restore riverside grasses, shrubs and trees to filter pollutants, sediments and excess nutrients from ground and surface water.
  • Avoid erosion. Place mulch over disturbed soil in heavily used areas.
  • Pave less. Hard surfaces hasten run-off and erosion.
  • Curb run-off. When storm water is a problem, create a path or ledge to both capture run-off and filter pollutants through sand.

On the Beach

  • Fish respectfully. Follow "catch and release" practices and keep more fish alive.
  • Respect life on the rock. If you turn over rocks at the beach, remember to put them back so that animals that live on top, like barnacles, stay on the top and those that live on the bottom stay on the bottom.
  • Have fun on the beach, but leave it clean. When you leave the beach or park, your trash should too. Be sure to bring enough bags to take all trash with you.
  • Don't trample. To view life in coastal regions, use a canoe or kayak so you don't destroy sensitive habitats.
  • Watch out for contamination. Support periodic testing to make sure that pesticides aren't contaminating golf course waters, adjacent creeks and groundwater.
  • Eliminate poisons. If you hunt or fish, use nontoxic alternatives to lead shot, sinkers and jigs.

 On your Boat

  • Keep it friendly. Waves destroy shorelines and increase erosion. For environmentally friendly boating, observe posted speeds and "no-wake" signs.
  • Secure loose items. Don't let items blow overboard and add to marine debris.
  • Watch out for leaks. Be vigilant about harmful oil leaks from boat engines.
  • Mop up. Use environmentally friendly cleaning products, and don't clean up by tossing debris out to sea. Trash, chemicals, plastic bags and fishing lines can pollute or strangle vulnerable marine life.
  • Respect habitat. Treat the homes of vital marine life with care. Habitat and survival go hand-in-hand. When habitat disappears, some plants and animals do too.

In your Community

  • Share your knowledge. Spread the word about America's estuaries. Share what you know about protecting them with your families, students, community leaders and others.
  • Take action! Organize a stream or beach cleanup. Encourage your local newspaper to write a story, or ask an expert to speak at your community organization or local school.
* DeJong, Meindert (1954). The Wheel on the School. New York, N.Y.: HarperCollins Publishers Ltd..
Credit: The Georgia Coastal Education Group

Last Updated on: 12-17-2010


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