Oregon's Proposed Marine Reserves Clear Near-Final Hurdle

Oregon's Proposed Marine Reserves Clear Near-Final Hurdle

Oregon's Ocean Policy Advisory Council (OPAC) today formally endorsed three marine reserve plans developed by state-appointed community teams, – made up of science, conservation and industry representatives – by forwarding the plans to the governor and Legislature for review and implementation in 2011. The final agency recommendations for the Cape Falcon, Cascade Head and Cape Perpetua reserves are the product of nearly a decade of public process. These three areas would be added to the Redfish Rocks and Otter Rock marine reserves designated in 2009 to create a network of protections along the state's coast.

“We appreciate the intensive work of the diverse community teams and the oversight provided by the Department of Fish and Wildlife. The collaboration and compromises negotiated through this process put the state on a path to sustain our ocean legacy in the Oregon way,” said the Pew Environment Group's Susan Allen, who directs the Our Ocean coalition.

“This compromise brings our state one step closer to having a science-based marine reserve network that will provide an ecological savings account to help sustain coastal economies and ensure our marine environment remains healthy for years to come,” said Robin Hartmann, ocean program director for the Oregon Shores Conservation Coalition.

The community teams, created through House Bill 3013 in 2009, were asked to develop balanced marine reserve and protected area plans for three ecologically important and nationally recognized regions: Cape Falcon, Cascade Head and Cape Perpetua. Using two benchmarks established by Gov. Ted Kulongoski in 2008, teams were required to identify “not more than nine sites for consideration as marine reserves that, individually or collectively, are large enough to allow scientific evaluation of ecological benefits, but small enough to avoid significant economic or social impacts.” The assignment resulted in well over 4,000 hours of volunteer time and a year of hard work, study and compromise to deliver majority-supported plans to ODFW.

“Setting aside prime habitat at Cape Falcon, Cascade Head and Cape Perpetua will boost the resilience and productivity of our nearshore,” said Paul Engelmeyer, manager of the Audubon Society of Portland's Ten Mile Creek Sanctuary.

In addition to the Redfish Rocks and Otter Rocks reserves, and the three plans just endorsed by ODFW, Oregon's Ocean Policy Advisory Council recommended further evaluation for the Cape Arago area. A community group facilitated by the International Port of Coos Bay is working to develop a protection plan for that area and is expected to deliver its recommendations later this year.