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Grand Opening of the Rookery Bay Ten Thousand Islands Research Facility

Grand Opening of the Rookery Bay Ten Thousand Islands Research Facility

Located in Goodland, the new Rookery Bay Ten Thousand Island Research Facility and Dormitory is the only facility of its kind in Collier County. It includes a marina, dormitory and scientific facility - all with easy access to the Ten Thousand Islands. The location enables reserve staff, interns and partnering scientists to conduct research by boat to a large aquatic and uplands area within the 110,000-acre reserve.

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Grand opening ribbon cutting at the Ten Thousand Islands Research Facility.

On Saturday, November 6, 2021, Keith Laakkonen, Director of the Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve, cut the ribbon for the new facility and dormitory and welcomed the invited guests who came to view the new building. According to Laakkonen, Rookery Bay Research Reserve has a positive impact on the 110,000 acres of managed land and waters, which encompasses 40% of Collier County’s coastline as well as the wildlife that call it home.

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Keith Laakkonen welcomes guests to the grand opening of the new Ten Thousand Islands Research Facility in Goodland.

Laakkonen also added that much scientific research takes place in this section of the reserve (which is the western most part of the Everglades ecosystem) including the sea turtle nest monitoring, endangered bird research and shark research. The marina is also the launch point for Rookery Bay's Team Ocean volunteers who take to the waters to outreach to area boaters and beachgoers about the work of the reserve and increase awareness of nesting endangered birds and sea turtles of the reserve.

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He was excited about the new facility's eight-person dormitory offering convenient lodging for visiting scientists working in partnership with Rookery Bay or conducting independent research in this remote section of the reserve. In addition, the dormitory gives student interns an immersive learning experience near their area of study including sea turtle nesting and avian research on distant barrier island beaches.

Multiple vessels are kept at the facility's marina as well as boats for other partner organizations such as Audubon Florida.

The new facility replaces an old, outdated bungalow-style house & dormitory in disrepair that acted as a lab. The new facility is ADA compliant with an elevator. It is coastal weather resistant and a resilient structure that can withstand storm surge, wind and major storm events. The building is eco-friendly and built with the latest green construction including a foundation above FEMA standards for flood.

Rookery Bay Infographic

Who are the project partners? The project was funded by a NOAA PAC grant specific to National Estuarine Research Reserves. A Hurricane Irma Recovery Fund also provided moneys toward the foundation and the resilient construction of the building

The best part of the event? Sharing it with the community and letting them know of the important science and research occurring here to conserve and protect Rookery Bay Research Reserve's 110,000 acres of land, water and wildlife for generations to come.

According to NOAA, the field station will stand the test of time, including hurricanes, and will serve the community of researchers, educators and students who will use it to further research and learning while making lasting memories.

With a facility built with resilience in mind, it will provide researchers and students with safe and secure accommodations. The reserve has built a facility that ensures critical research and monitoring efforts in the more remote areas of the reserve for years to come.

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New marina and dock for the reserve’s staff and other partner organizations.

And just as important, Laakkonen thanked the staff and volunteers at the reserve for their perseverance over the years to bring this project to completion and for getting the facility ready for today’s grand opening and celebration.

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