Doug Grout, NHFG, 603-868-1095
Monica Allen, NOAA, 301-713-2370
Peter Wellenberger, 603-868-1095
September 3, 2008
NOAA Honors Wellenberger, Leader of New Hampshire Estuarine Reserve

Peter Wellenberger
Peter Wellenberger, Manager of Great Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve has been honored by NOAA. (MEDIA: For print-quality image, click on photo.)

DURHAM, N.H. -- Peter Wellenberger, a Newmarket, N.H., resident and New Hampshire Fish and Game Department staff member, has been honored by the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) for three decades of commitment to stewardship, research and outreach concerning our nation's estuaries.

NOAA Fisheries Service chief science adviser Steven A. Murawski presented Wellenberger, who manages the Great Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve, with the prestigious 2008 Dr. Nancy Foster Habitat Conservation Award on August 22, 2008, at the American Fisheries Society annual meeting in Ottawa, Canada. Wellenberger helped establish the Great Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve in Greenland, N.H., and has been its manager since 1990.

"Peter Wellenberger was an advocate for the Great Bay Estuary while still in college, and he has grown into a national leader for research and stewardship of estuaries," said James Balsiger, acting assistant administrator for NOAA's Fisheries Service. "His commitment to conserving habitat for fish, birds and other wildlife in these rich areas where salt and freshwater mix is in keeping with the outstanding example set by Dr. Nancy Foster in her 23 years at NOAA."

Wellenberger worked to protect the Great Bay estuary while an undergraduate at the University of New Hampshire in the 1970s and was then part of a citizen group that urged that the bay be designated as a national estuarine research reserve, which occurred in 1989. He became the first manager of the reserve in 1990.

Wellenberger has helped expand the reserve of salt marsh, freshwater wetlands, mudflats, upland forest and coastal rivers from 6,353 acres to 10,235 acres. He also started the Great Bay Stewards, a volunteer group with more than 300 members who work on behalf of the reserve. At the national level, Wellenberger helped develop a strategy for land acquisition for the National Estuarine Research Reserve System and serves as a leader with the National Estuarine Research Reserve Association.

"Peter has worked tirelessly throughout his career to preserve and protect the jewel of New Hampshire we call the Great Bay Estuary," said Doug Grout, Chief of Marine Fisheries at the N.H. Fish and Game Department. "New Hampshire citizens should be proud of his many accomplishments, and I am pleased that Peter is receiving national recognition for his efforts."

NOAA's Fisheries Service established the Dr. Nancy Foster Award in 1997 to recognize leaders in habitat conservation. The first award was presented in 1997 to Dr. Foster, who had been instrumental throughout her career with NOAA in protecting, conserving and restoring threatened habitats for living marine resources. Under her direction, NOAA created the Office of Habitat Conservation and the NOAA Restoration Center to focus on protecting and restoring the nation's coastal and marine habitat. She established the NOAA Chesapeake Bay Office, which has pioneered ecosystem management to restore the nation's largest estuary. Dr. Foster served as a visionary leader at NOAA until her death in 2000. The award in her honor has been presented eight times since 1997; visit

NOAA works to understand and predict changes in the Earth's environment, from the depths of the ocean to the surface of the sun, and conserves and manages our coastal and marine resources. Visit

For more about the Great Bay Management Plan, development of which was coordinated by Wellenberger, visit

The Great Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve is a cooperative federal-state partnership between the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.  Visit

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