The Weeks Bay Foundation was incorporated in 1990 as a non-profit organization to support the Weeks Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve in its efforts to protect the pristine coastal area of Baldwin County , Alabama . The Foundation, with over 550 members, supports the Reserve through donations of land and educational exhibits, public awareness and education programs, water quality monitoring efforts, and volunteer programs.

The Foundation is a strong advocate for the Reserve, raising money to allow the Reserve to develop facilities, including the boardwalk behind the Interpretive Center and the new bog boardwalk, and establish a specimen collection, including live species. The Foundation also pursues land acquisition activities in the Weeks Bay watershed.

The Weeks Bay Reserve provides a living laboratory for education and research groups to learn about estuaries, those coastal areas where rivers meet the sea. The Reserve is managed by the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, and is also a part of the National Estuarine Research Reserve System of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration of the U. S. Department of Commerce.

Weeks Bay Reserve Interpretive Center

The Weeks Bay Reserve Interpretive Center is located on U. S. Highway 98 between Fairhope, Alabama and Foley, Alabama just west of the Fish River Bridge. The Center houses a multitude of exhibits, habitat models, specimen collections and a diorama giving the visitor a better understanding about the value of estuaries, diversity of coastal wetlands, and a close-up look at living plants and animals of coastal Alabama.

Associated with the Interpretive Center are over 5,000 feet of elevated boardwalks and over two miles of primitive ground trails, both interpreted for visitor use, public groups and formal education activities. Some of the special opportunities available at the Weeks Bay Reserve include a native pitcher plant bog, hummingbird and butterfly gardens, historical and archaeological displays, and scenic
vistas of the Weeks Bay estuary.

Weeks Bay Reserve Eco-System

Much of the land surrounding Weeks Bay is composed of forested wetlands and swamps, as well as some areas of upland pine-oak forest. The primary forested wetland habitat is moist pine forest, which is dominated by slash pine. The habitat may contain a very dense understory consisting of gallberry, wax myrtle, saw palmetto and other species. Bay-tupelo-cypress swamps border the rivers and tidal streams of the watershed. Species composition varies with the amount and duration of flooding. The shoreline of Weeks Bay supports fringing saline marshes that grade into brackish marshes upstream. One of the most abundant marsh species throughout the salinity range is black needlerush. Populations of submerged grasses border shallow, relatively quiet shores of the bay.

The diverse habitats of the Weeks Bay ecosystem support a wide variety of animal life, including several species of special concern. There are numerous resident bird species, as well as many nesting and wintering birds. This area is especially important to the large number of trans-Gulf migratory birds as a resting and feeding area.

Commonly found mammals include gray and red fox, bobcat, river otter, opossum, armadillo, and muskrat. Bottlenose dolphin occasionally visit the area. There are also many species of reptiles and amphibians, the most prominent of which is the American alligator. Others include water snakes and cottonmouths, box turtle, and several species of frog. Approximately 19 endangered or threatened species have been identified in Reserve habitat.

The Weeks Bay ecosystem contains many freshwater and marine fish and invertebrate species. Collectively, these species support large commercial and recreational fishing industries. The estuary is a particularly important nursery ground for shrimp, blue crab, and fish such as spotted sea trout, red drum, croaker, and flounder.


Weeks Bay Reserve Education and Research
Weeks Bay and the surrounding area have been important historically for a number of commercial and recreational activities in addition to fishing. Crop farming such as cotton and corn has been and continues to be important in the area of the Reserve. Baldwin County is the state's largest county, but has a population of only 100,000 people. The entire county, but particularly the southern coastal portion, which includes the Weeks Bay area, is experiencing rapid population growth. This has resulted in a booming home construction business that is putting additional pressure on the area's coastal resources.

     The Weeks Bay Reserve is a center of excellence for environmental education and research. The education and research programs that have developed since the establishment of the Reserve have focused on preservation of the estuary and promoting best management practices within the Weeks Bay Watershed. Programs have followed national environmental goals relating to resource protection, research, education, partnerships, and stewardship. Activities supporting such programs and goals include:

  • Guided tours for kindergarten through 12th grade classes;
  • Ecology classes for various adult groups and clubs;
  • Workshops on land use issues dealing with wetlands, erosion, and sewage.
  • Guest lectures for the community on environmental and coastal topics;
  • Kids Fishing Fun activity open to community children up to age 15;
  • Weeks Bay Day highlighting coastal wetlands in an 'open house' setting;
  • Annual Weeks Bay Reserve Volunteer Native Plant Sale;
  • River and Coastal clean-ups that involve community volunteers twice a year; and;
  • Wetlands Celebration open house with speakers, food, games, and fun.
Coastal Decision Maker Workshops
More technical outreach opportunities include a series of Coastal Decision Maker workshops available to those interested in watershed issues and practices to lessen environmental impact. These topics would be of interest to engineers, municipal planners, educators, watershed coordinators, homebuilders, homeowners and others. Topics for such workshops include:
  • Sediment and erosion control;
  • Watersheds and non-point source pollution;
  • Wetlands identification and delineation;
  • Landscaping with native plants; and
  • On-site sewage disposal systems.


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