Based on the abstract for the University Outreach and Engagement 2017 Vice Provost Awards of Excellence nomination

 

Coos Bay Watershed assessment areas
Coos Bay Watershed assessment areas

Federal and State agencies in Oregon and the Pacific Northwest have invested millions of dollars assessing watershed health and identifying habitat restoration opportunities. Unfortunately, many restoration efforts lack a clear process for prioritization of projects, leading to inefficient application of scarce financial and personnel resources.

In 2005, Guillermo Giannico (PI) and Jon Souder (co-PI) obtained National Sea Grant funding for a collaborative project between OSU Forestry Extension, Oregon Sea Grant and the Coos Watershed Association (CoosWA) to develop a series of watershed restoration plans for six lowland coastal basins north of Coos Bay. Some of the main collaborators in the development of the decision making process included Drs. Phil Roni, Tim Beechie and George Pess (NOAA’s Northwest Fisheries Science Center, USA), Dr. Gordie Reeves (U.S. Forest Service), Pam Blake (Oregon Department of Environmental Quality), Bruce Miller (Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife), Criag Cornue (South Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve), and others.

Giannico is an Extension Fish Ecology and Watershed Specialist, has an Oregon Sea Grant appointment and is an associate professor of Fisheries and Wildlife in the College of Agricultural Sciences. Souder is an Extension Forestry and Natural Resources Specialist and assistant professor of Forestry Engineering Resources and Management in the College of Forestry.

There are at least six reasons to prioritize restoration projects. In addition to the fact that funders are asking for it, prioritization:

  1. Leads to strategic planning and evaluation.
  2. Recognizes capacity constraints.
  3. Turns assessments into action plans.
  4. Makes tradeoffs explicit.
  5. Gives the ability to say “no!”
Coffee klatches involve community stakeholders in conversations leading to better outcomes.
Coffee klatches involve community stakeholders in conversations leading to better outcomes.

In order to maximize public involvement, a series of coffee klatches, i.e., informal conversations, were held within each basin to elicit landowner visions and concerns. Associated with the conversations, work with Oregon scientists led to the development of a flexible and transparent restoration prioritization process that considers both ecological and socio-economic criteria. The process is called the Coos Bay Prioritization Approach (CBPA).

The CBPA was completed in 2008 and has been applied to restoration plans for 14 watersheds on the South Coast.  An outcome of these assessments was the establishment of the Partnership for Coastal Watersheds (PCW), a joint effort with the South Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve.

The PCW convened a multi-stakeholder group and used the CBPA to revise the Coos Bay Estuary Management Plan.  In addition, a multi-agency group led by the Wild Salmon Center has identified the CBPA as the preferred method for Coastal Watershed Council. The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife is considering requiring the CBPA for any project requesting state funding to restore Coho habitat on the coast. Several watershed councils in Oregon, Washington and British Columbia have adopted CBPA.

During 2016, Giannico and Souder hosted three workshops, which included 55 participants from 45 organizations in 10 states (and Korea).  Many of these participants have requested additional training.  International workshops also were conducted in the Netherlands, Spain, Czech Republic, Italy, and Mexico.

Words of advice from Drs. Giannico and Souder: “Get out of the office and partner with community organizations!”

The prioritization of watershed projects was recognized as one of 10 outreach and engagement projects to receive the 2017 Vice Provost Awards of Excellence.

 

 

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