Excerpts from the Spring/Summer 2016 Confluence, an Oregon Sea Grant publication –
drought map May 2015_National Drought Mitigation Center
May 2015 U.S. Drought Monitor Map, National Drought Mitigation Center

Editor’s note: Climate change is perhaps the toughest problem facing our world today. This week’s blog features excerpts from the most recent issue of Confluence, a publication produced by Oregon Sea Grant (OSG). OSG works on issues related to freshwater and marine waterways and climate change is dramatically impacting both.

Oregon Sea Grant has an interesting history and is an integral part of OSU’s community outreach and engagement model. Housed on the OSU campus, OSG is part of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and funds research conducted at OSU and other universities. Climate change, tsunami preparedness, and wave energy are three areas of research priority.

According to the OSG website, “congress created the NOAA Sea Grant program in 1968 in an effort to bring the kind of national attention and resources to ocean and coastal issues that the USDA’s Extension Service had brought to rural agricultural communities since the early 20th century. In 1971, Oregon was designated one of the nation’s first four Sea Grant states, along with Washington, Texas and Rhode Island. Today Sea Grant programs are found in every coastal state; and Oregon’s is still widely considered one of the very top programs.

Drought map intensity key
Drought intensity

“With resident Extension faculty stationed up and down the coast, a core of marine educators and aquarists at the (now Hatfield) Marine Science Center, and capable scientists, communicators and administrators on the OSU campus, Sea Grant has become an important part of OSU’s research and public engagement portfolio.”

Drought map May 2016_National Drought Mitigation Center
May 2016 U.S. Drought Monitor Map, National Drought Mitigation Center

Four new videos produced by Oregon Sea Grant (OSG) show how certain business practices, farming techniques, and riparian management strategies are better poised to tolerate droughts in Oregon. The videos, produced by OSG videographer Vanessa Ciccone in collaboration with John Stevenson, a climate specialist with OSG Extension at OSU, can be found on the OSG YouTube Channel along with other fascinating videos.

 

The short videos form a series called Documenting the Drought: Mitigating the Effects in Oregon. OSG created them in response to the state’s 2015 drought, said Stevenson. “We found that the people and places that did better during the drought were the ones where investment had been made in water conservation and restoration efforts over the past decade.”

 

The conditions that led up to the 2015 drought is described in one video. Another features Frank Burris, the county leader of the OSU Extension Service in Curry County and OSG’s watershed health specialist for the southern Oregon coast, describing riparian restoration projects along Pea and Gallagher Creeks. The projects were prompted by concern over the effects of rising stream temperatures and reduced stream flow on salmon, a mainstay of the region’s recreational fishing economy.

 

If you’ve skied in Ashland, one of the videos may be of particular interest to you. Mt. Ashland Ski Area adapted to sparse winter snowfall by relocating snow and was able to open for 38 days in 2014-15 versus none in the prior ski season. During the summer months, you’re likely to be able to enjoy ziplining, a bungee trampoline, disc golf and concerts, all of which will supplement declining ski-season income.

 

In another video, Bill Buhrig, a crops specialist with OSU Extension in Malheur County talks about planting faster maturing plants as a success strategy for farmers where a full season of water is no longer available. Strategies to conserve water through buried pipelines and gravity systems are described and extend the irrigation season by two to three weeks.

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