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Friends of Rookery Bay will host a sneak peak of a new PBS documentary, “Southwest Florida’s Mangrove Coast,” at 7 p.m., Monday, April 8 at Silverspot Cinema, 9118 Strada Place in Mercato.

The film celebrates the 40th anniversary of the Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve, a 110,000-acre reserve that stretches from downtown Naples to the Western Everglades and encompasses 40 percent of Collier County’s coastline.

“Southwest Florida’s Mangrove Coast” highlights the reserve’s story of how a vision to protect the fragile ecosystem between Marco Island and Naples grew to include partnerships with local families and conservation agencies. It features appearances by people who were instrumental in creating the Reserve, including representatives from the Conservancy of Southwest Florida, National Audubon Society and Nature Conservancy.

The Rookery Bay Environmental Learning Center at 300 Tower Road boasts aquariums, a touch bank, natural history exhibits, walking trails, an art gallery and gift shop. Science Saturdays offer special activities, and the summer Kids Free Fridays program features different story times and crafts weekly.

The Friends of Rookery Bay coordinates guided boat and kayak trips through the Reserve. The various trips go to an ancient sand dune relic from the Pleistocene Era, Keewaydin Island, and rookery islands.

The juried art gallery exhibitions are coordinated in conjunction with the United Arts Council of Collier County and change throughout the year. Free receptions with the artists are held when new exhibitions open.

The last Saturday of September each year is National Estuaries Day. The Rookery Bay Environmental Learning Center celebrates with free admission, free boat and kayak tours, and activities for nature lovers of all ages.

Friends of Rookery Bay holds the annual Bash for the Bay in support of the Reserve. “For more than 30 years, Friends of Rookery Bay has raised awareness about and funds to support the important education, research and stewardship work conducted by Reserve staff,” said Athan Barkoukis, Friends of Rookery Bay Executive Director. “Because the Reserve encompasses 40 percent of Collier County’s coastline, it’s important that we all help protect our backyard. Having a healthy mangrove system and estuarine waters is critical to our way of life, is an economic engine for local tourism businesses and offers limitless recreational activities.”

The evening includes a Q&A with filmmaker Elam Stoltzfus and Reserve Director Keith Laakkonen. Tickets are $20 and may be purchased at silverspot.net.

Visit rookerybay.org to learn more and to become a member of the Friends of Rookery Bay.

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