Clean water and habitat sustain all who live, work, and play in the Narragansett Bay Region.


The Narragansett Bay Estuary Program is a catalyst for scientific inquiry and collective action that restores and protects water quality, wildlife, and quality of life in the region.

The ten (10) aspirations that underlie NBEP’s pursuit of this vision and mission are: 

  1. Community-driven—Foster initiatives developed by local people for their place.
  2. Cross-boundary—Act across the State and watershed borders of the region.
  3. Partnership—Maintain a partnership of the varied geographies, interests and experiences in our study area that can to identify common problems and paths to solving them.
  4. Collaborative Governance—Empower collective decision-making that is formal, consensus-oriented, and based in trust and shared motivations.
  5. Science—Synthesize and share quality scientific data in a manner that is accessible and useful to researchers and decision-makers.
  6. Ecosystem-based Management—Recognize the full array of interactions within the region, including humans, rather than considering single issues, species, or ecosystems in isolation.
  7. Equity, Inclusion, Diversity, and Justice—Pursue authentic engagement with all those potentially impacted by our work to ensure fair and lasting benefits for all.
  8. Accountability —Set clear goals, seek commitments to meet them, and regularly elevate progress.
  9. Transparency—Share our work in a clear, open, and honest manner.
  10. Adaptive—Remain flexible and responsive to new information and conditions to maximize achievement of our mission in a changing environment, particularly in light of climate change.

The Narragansett Bay Estuary Program was launched on July 12, 1985, with a demonstration of federal financial support aboard the Research Vessel Endeavor. This initial federal funding provided researchers with the means to develop over one hundred research and policy studies on a broad array of topics to help protect, preserve, and restore the Narragansett Bay watershed. On March 11, 1988, the Narragansett Bay Estuary was officially declared an “estuary of national significance” by the United States Environmental Protection Agency’s National Estuary Program.

Since its inception, the Estuary Program has been guided by a Steering Committee made up of critical partners and stakeholders in both Rhode Island and Massachusetts. It is the collaboration and coordination of these partners throughout the Narragansett Bay watershed that continues to guide the priorities of the Narragansett Bay Estuary Program.

The National Estuary ProgramThe National Estuary Program is a unique program to protect and restore the water quality and ecological integrity of estuaries of national significance. Currently, 28 estuaries located along the Atlantic, Gulf, and Pacific coasts and in Puerto Rico are designated as estuaries of national significance. The National Esturay Program is a non-regulatory program established by Congress and was authorized by section 320 of the Clean Water Act in 1987. To learn more about the National Estuary Program and the other Estuary Programs in the country, read the brochure or visit the United States Environmental Protection Agency’s website.

In addition, all 28 Estuary Programs are members of the Association of National Estuary Programs, a nonprofit organization dedicated to the preservation and restoration of our nation’s bays and estuaries.

The Association of National Estuary Programs (ANEP) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting the preservation and restoration of our nation’s vital estuaries. ANEP works with the 28 programs in the National Estuary Program (NEP) which brings together citizens, scientists, businesses and government to solve environmental problems and promote healthy communities. ANEP supports the local National Estuary Programs and serves as a unified voice for issues concerning them and vital estuary resources.

restore america's estuaries logoRestore America’s Estuaries is a national alliance of 10 coastal conservation groups that stretch from Rhode Island to Washington State. Local projects restore coastal wetlands, improve water quality, open fish passages, build living shorelines, re-plant salt marshes and restore shellfish habitat. Restore America’s Estuaries is dedicated to the protection and restoration of bays and estuaries as essential resources for our nation.