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The last year has been one of transition and change professionally – almost a year ago exactly, I successfully defended my dissertation. I feel very fortunate that I now have the opportunity to further broaden my experiences as an Oregon Sea Grant Natural Resources Policy fellow. My primary role as a fellow is to assist the Scientific and Technical Advisory Committee (STAC) as they carry out the legislatively-mandated Marine Reserves assessment process. The Oregon Legislative Assembly and other stakeholders will use information from a legislatively-mandated report, due in 2023, to inform adaptive management of Oregon’s Marine Reserves going into the future.

Celebrating my defense in May 2018 – smiles all around!

Although I haven’t blogged much in the past (once to be exact), I really enjoy reading science blogs and essays. I notice that many blogs in the marine science community involve a story about how the writer’s desire to work with marine ecosystems stems from the fact that they were raised near the ocean. I will just let you know right now – I was not. I was born in Kentucky, and in case you just consider that part of “flyover country” I will 1) be sad and 2) let you know that it’s roughly 500 miles, east or south, to the nearest coastal ocean.  The nearest beaches were those of man-made dammed lakes like Kentucky Lake and Lake Barkley, which are on the Tennessee and Cumberland Rivers, respectively. Although I didn’t know it at the time, these lakes displaced ~2500 people and inundated many cultural and historical sites. At the time, I simply delighted in the fun that these not-quite-natural wonders offered: swimming, fishing, and hiking are just a few fond memories.

Growing up in a rural community, I wasn’t exposed to many scientists. I never really thought about science as a profession, and then I effectively ruled it out at a too-early age when I decided that math was too hard. Now, if I could go back, I’d like to tell my younger self a lot of things – but not writing off math at such an early age would be a big one. But early experiences like these, along with discovering the wonders of backpacking during my early 20s probably helped lead me back to school a few years later.

So at first, my desire to pursue a career in science was really driven by pure curiosity about the natural world I was spending more and more time in, but moving to Colorado during a major drought and wildfire period very quickly expanded my interests to include better understanding the ways humans both rely on and impact important natural resources. I happened to take my first-ever geology class unintentionally (I was planning to major in biology and it filled a needed elective spot). I arrived bleary-eyed at 8:00 AM so that I could also squeeze in 30 hours of work/week only to have my eyes opened to an entirely new world, and a career in water resources was born. As a master’s student studying how river systems change through time, I realized that I was very interested in applied research (how can lessons learned be translated into effective management actions), and a PhD in Environmental Resources & Policy broadened these interests even more – how do we get to policies that consider evidence from scientific disciplines (life, physical, social sciences) but also address other important concerns?

Although some may consider my outsider status a liability, I choose to look at my journey as an opportunity. I can’t help but be amazed by the fact that I’ve had the opportunity to ponder water and all that depends on it as a part of my academic career. From semi-arid headwaters streams that I could step across in sandals to the nation’s largest river swamp, I’ve had the chance to study water and the many ways we impact this vital resource. As an outsider, I don’t have many preconceived notions about whether marine reserves are “right” or “wrong” as a management tool, but I hope a few of the lessons I’ve learned so far will help me perform my work as I learn more about the relevant policy landscape. A few themes stand out and seem to be common regardless of the resource or its geographic location:

  • We (humans) have often believed natural resources to be inexhaustible in their bounty.
  • We altered/used the resources in many ways without fully understanding the consequences of our actions.
  • Many of these systems are resilient and we didn’t realize the impacts immediately.
  • We now understand that we are at risk of losing vital services these systems have historically provided to us.
  • Often, groups most dependent on these resources for their livelihoods are most impacted even though they are not typically the ones responsible for the major changes.
  • Often, groups dependent on these resources for their livelihoods have been left out of decision-making processes.

Well, these are complicated problems. I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how various audiences do (or don’t) engage with science. More specifically, I’ve been thinking about how lessons learned from science are used (or not) to make decisions. Many scientists realize the need to share the results of their research and why it’s important, but much evidence points to the fact that just expanding the availability of information doesn’t necessarily translate into science that that’s usable. Another really valuable component that could improve the science-policy interface, perhaps, is realizing that scientific findings are just one piece of information that ultimately affects policy; listening and trying to understand the other pieces are also important. Even though scientists are trained to be objective, the reality is that humans (including scientists!) make decisions based on other valid ways of knowing. I bring this up not because I’m an expert on the subject, but because I am genuinely interested in finding ways to improve “evidence-based decision making for sustainability.” 1

So the initial phase of my fellowship has been an intense phase of learning and listening. I’ve had the opportunity to sit down with STAC members and ODFW’s Marine Reserves Team, and their insight and expertise have greatly improved my understanding of the science behind marine reserves. The resources available to me through Oregon Sea Grant – through conversations, publications like this one, and workshops and seminars – have proved to be invaluable resources for learning about coastal issues and how they affect local communities. My deep dive into Oregon’s Marine Reserves process so far has revealed this: the process wasn’t always pretty, it was sometimes contentious, but it has incorporated many of the factors needed for conservation success. And perhaps more importantly, it revealed this – all stakeholders ultimately want the same thing: healthy ocean ecosystems that will provide for current and future generations. There may be disagreement on how best to do this – but that’s where the listening comes in. We may not agree on all the finer points, but we can agree to listen to each other.

Participation in the many learning opportunities available through Oregon Sea Grant and Oregon State University has been a key part of my fellowship so far. Photo credit: James Dewhirst

 

  1. Bednarek, A. T. et al. Boundary spanning at the science–policy interface: the practitioners’ perspectives. Sustain. Sci. 13, 1175–1183 (2018).

 

 

under: Anne Hayden-Lesmeister, Natural Resources Policy Fellow, Scientific and Technical Advisory Committee Fellow

The Oregon Applied Sustainability Experience (OASE) is offering paid internships for its 10-week program this summer. Internships are open to any student in Oregon who are juniors or seniors or have obtained graduate or advanced undergraduate training in business, economics, engineering, environmental science, green chemistry, physical science, or sustainability science. Projects address pollution prevention solutions for Oregon businesses and pair students with an industry mentor to gain hands-on experience in project development and management, as well as science communication to interdisciplinary audiences. Project topics include energy or water audits, toxics reduction, green chemistry, and life cycle assessment.

Application materials include a brief résumé, transcripts, and short statement expressing your interest (how you might benefit from the opportunity and how your skills align with the project(s) of interest). More details about application requirements and the available positions are provided on our website:

https://seagrant.oregonstate.edu/fellowships/oregon-applied-sustainability-experience

For full consideration, submit your application by April 12. Applicants will be matched to the opportunities based on experience and interest areas. Program dates are June 17 through August 30, 2019; stipends and training will be provided to eligible students. Please contact Valerie Stephan-LeBeouf (stephan.valerie@deq.state.or.us) for more information

2019 OASE Host Businesses:

  1. AntFarm; Sandy, OR
  2. Grand Central Bakery; Portland, OR
  3. Stumptown Coffee Roasters; Portland, OR
  4. East West Tea Company, LLC (Yogi); Eugene, OR
  5. Green Hammer; Portland, OR
  6. RiverBend Materials; Salem, OR
  7. Stoller Wine Group; Dayton, OR
under: Oregon Applied Sustainability Experience, Oregon DEQ, Oregon State Marine Board, sea_leb, sea_leb, sea_leb

Here’s to my first blog post as an Oregon Sea Grant Fellow!  It’s been a busy winter as I have transitioned from supporting the Coastal Caucus at the Oregon State Legislature to working with the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), the Oregon State Marine Board (OSMB), and helping to coordinate logistics for scholars applying to the 2019 Oregon Applied Sustainability Experience (OASE).

As a joint project for DEQ and OSMB, I am beginning research on boat anti-fouling paint usage and potential aquatic impacts in Oregon.  In case you didn’t know, boaters who leave their boats moored at marinas  in salt-water environments often use anti-fouling paint on the bottom of boat hulls to prevent the attachment and spread of aquatic organisms, including invasive species.  The use of anti-fouling paint in freshwater environments is less common as there are very few organisms that are classified as “fouling” that would be of concern for attaching to the bottom of a boat.  Boat bottom paint comes in many different forms with an array of different chemicals (or no chemicals such as an epoxy based paint).  In addition, the majority of boats in Oregon are “trailered” meaning they hardly ever spend an extended amount of time being moored in the water and are primarily day use boats where applying an anti-fouling paint to the boat bottom, would not be necessary.  One of the more common elements in anti-fouling paint is copper. As this chemical slowly leaches out of the paint, any organisms trying to attach to the surface of a boat, find it undesirable and thus don’t attach.  However, numerous studies indicate that high levels of copper can negatively impact salmon and potentially cause other unwanted harmful water quality conditions. DEQ and OSMB developed this project to increase place-based knowledge relating to anti-fouling paint usage, and potential, if any, aquatic impacts in Oregon.

It’s a new-to-me research area, plus fascinating and challenging, as copper is an essential nutrient at low concentrations, and is an abundant trace element that occurs naturally in the Earth’s crust and surface waters. In fresh water environments, levels can frequently fluctuate (toxic/not toxic) due to changes in temperature, pH, dissolved organic carbon (DOC), concentrations of cations such as calcium, magnesium and sodium, variations in alkalinity, etc. Too much copper can be a serious issue to aquatic organisms, and it can negatively impact salmon by impairing their sense of smell, which in turn, may negatively impact their ability to travel for spawning, avoid predators, etc. And it’s not just salmon, if copper levels are too high, other fish in fresh water, like trout, can experience reduced resistance to diseases, altered swimming, impairment to respiration, blood chemistry, and more.

That’s where I come in… I am currently in the processing of collecting data, reading studies, connecting with water quality experts, and beginning my connections with boaters/marinas/boatyards to compile a report that will summarize and provide some clarity on current anti-fouling practices and known levels of copper in some of Oregon’s salt-water and fresh water environments.

I am also currently assisting with the 2019 Oregon Applied Sustainability Experience (OASE). A joint program of Oregon Sea Grant and DEQ, OASE will place seven student interns at host businesses in Oregon to help analyze the company’s waste streams and to research and recommend process improvements that will lower operating costs while reducing negative environmental impacts. For the past month, I have been assisting with the preparation and organization of the administrative portions that will assist the team at Oregon Sea Grant and DEQ, and me, as I provide near-peer mentoring support to the selected candidates during their 10 week experience. Host businesses have been selected and students can apply now. This should be an exciting and fun project and I can’t wait to hear about the creative ideas for reducing waste that the interns develop over the upcoming summer months.

under: Oregon Applied Sustainability Experience, Oregon DEQ, Oregon State Marine Board
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Every spring, Oregon State University’s SMILE (Science & Math Investigative Learning Experiences) program, which is part of the Office of Precollege Programs, hosts Challenge events for high school, middle school, and elementary school students. These K-12 students are involved in SMILE clubs all over the state of Oregon. SMILE’s mission is to “increase underrepresented students’ success in STEM degree programs and careers and deliver high-quality teacher professional development” [1].

I am designing an activity for the spring Challenge Events at OSU’s new Marine Geology Repository (MGR) for elementary students (4th and 5th grade) and high school students (9th through 12th grade). Each group of ~25 students will visit the MGR for 1 hour.

I have designed each event with the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) in mind. For the high school students, I’ve drawn from HS-ESS2-6, which strives to, “develop a quantitative model to describe the cycling of carbon among the hydrosphere, atmosphere, geosphere, and biosphere. [emphasis is on modelling biogeochemical cycles that include the cycling of carbon through the ocean, atmosphere, soil and biosphere (including humans), providing that foundation for living organisms]” [2]. For the elementary students, I’ve drawn from the disciplinary core ideas for 4th graders related to understanding the history of the Earth and how living things affect the physical characteristics of their regions. For all K-12 students, the NGSS seeks to instil an enduring understanding of the scientific method. Thus, my broad objective is for learners to have an enduring understanding of estuarine habitats and their ecosystem services (especially carbon burial) so they can rationally use and advocate for conservation of coastal resources. Another important goal is for students to see themselves as scientists. I will therefore both speak about my pathway into science and also set up the activities to follow hypothesis-based lines of reasoning.

This is a lot to accomplish in only one hour! I’ve been working to design a lesson plan that covers all of these topics in hands-on activities that fit into my limited timeframe. I plan to allocate 10 minutes to welcoming the students to the core lab, describing the MGR, and talking about my path into science. We’ll then have a 10-minute discussion about the carbon cycle, why it’s important for global climate, and where carbon gets stored. I’ll also play our video of how we collect sediment cores.

 

 

Students will then be divided into groups of three and the next twenty minutes will be devoted to a hands-on activity assessing carbon concentrations within a sediment core. The cores I’ve chosen for each group will have obvious stratigraphy, with many different layers of sand, silt, and clay (below is an example). Along the length of the core, I will have a timeline so the students can get a sense of the timeframe over which salt marshes record environmental history. Samples from the core that vary in terms of organic matter content will also be set up under stereoscopes for students to look at the core material in detail. The students will have the ability to feel the sediment and look at it using hand lenses, as well. After the students have been able to observe the core, the aid at the table will ask the students to formulate a hypothesis about what kind of sediment from the core will have the highest carbon content. They will then take small samples (~3) and put them in beakers on a hot plate. A little bit of hydrogen peroxide will then be poured over the samples and the ones that bubble the most will have the highest organic matter content. They will then assess their hypothesis and the aid will lead them through a series of follow up questions. For instance, what kind of sediment (mud or sand) stores the most carbon? What other kinds of factors might influence the amount of carbon buried in salt marshes?

CT scan of an example sediment core used in the activities. The lighter portions of the image are more dense, sandy material. Darker portions of the image are less dense, organic-rich sediment. The left side of the core is the top, which is present day.

Following the activity, we’ll all come back together for a short, ~10-min discussion of what they learned, and I will answer final questions from students. In the remaining time, students will be led on a short tour of the MGR.

Throughout this process, I’ve received a lot of helpful advice and support from friends and colleagues. Members of the College of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Sciences (CEOAS) Science Communication group, including Abby Metzger (the Communication Manager in CEOAS), have provided me with advice along the way and have donated their time to a mock demonstration at the MGR. At the OSU MGR, the education and outreach coordinator, Cara Fritz, and other staff (Maziet Cheseby, Coquille Rex, and Valerie Stanley) have been wonderful sources of knowledge. Cara has additionally graciously agreed to help during the Challenge Events. Additionally, I’m very grateful to the staff at Precollege Programs. I’ve been working with Jay Well, who has been extremely helpful and generous with his time. Outreach takes a village!

Citations:
[1] https://smile.oregonstate.edu/mission
[2] https://www.nextgenscience.org/sites/default/files/AllTopic.pdf

under: Uncategorized

Posted on behalf of Brittany Harrington

For those of you who have spent time on the Oregon coast in December, you’ve almost certainly heard talk of the commercial crab season opening. These conversations aren’t confined to the docks or a visit to the ODFW office, they can be heard over dinner at any one of the local seafood restaurants, in line at the grocery store, or casually discussed on the city bus.

As the most valuable single species fishery in Oregon, Dungeness crab represent an important source of income to many of the people and communities along the coast. Landings of Dungeness crab have been recorded in Oregon since 1889 and, since that time, three very active targeted fisheries have developed surrounding this species. The fisheries are managed at the state level with the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) as the lead agency. However, managers currently face a number of complex management challenges associated with this key resource.

Over the past three months, I have had the opportunity to closely observe many of the conversations about Dungeness crab between fishery managers, industry members, and the broader coastal community. In December, I was brought on to work alongside staff from ODFW’s Marine Resources Program (MRP) to develop a Fisheries Management Plan (FMP) for the Dungeness crab fisheries in Oregon. My position is supported by the Nature Conservancy, who shares the goal of developing FMPs that allow for equitable access to marine resources while promoting the sustainability of fishery species.

I have a degree in Marine Resource Management from OSU and have spent many hours learning about different principles and practices in fisheries management, but I was particularly excited about this fellowship because it would allow me to be a part of the process and experience the practical applications of those topics that I knew largely from textbooks. I looked forward to learning from the many years of experience of the fishery managers that I am working with and from the complex interactions between stakeholders. What I had not anticipated, was how much I would learn simply from living in the town of Newport and exploring my new coastal community.

So far, the list of experiences that I’ve had in this position have been extremely diverse and rewarding. I’ve been able to dive into research on historical and existing policies surrounding the commercial and recreational crab fisheries in Oregon. I’ve assisted with hold inspections and dockside sampling which allowed me to interact with fishermen in a variety of positions and on different vessels ranging from small boats that fish for several hours and hold less than 1000 lbs of crab, to those that spend two weeks at sea and return with 150,000 lbs. I’ve attended meetings of the Oregon Dungeness Crab Advisory Committee (ODCAC) which has provided me a glimpse of the unique needs and perspectives within the commercial crab industry that we will strive to encompass in the crab FMP.

However, I would add to that list that I have also eaten in restaurants eagerly anticipating the influx of fresh crab that draws crowds of locals and tourists alike. I have witnessed the community mourning the loss of their own after the tragic death of three crab fishermen in the capsizing of the Mary B II in January. And I frequently walk along the working waterfront in Newport and observe the many indirect ties between crabbing and other local businesses.

Given the suite of emerging issues and changing ocean conditions related to this fishery, a fisheries management plan for Dungeness crab will not only provide an important, comprehensive tool for managers, but will also help to support a fishery that is central to the culture and identity of the Oregon coast. I look forward to learning more as I continue to become a part of the Newport community.

Trying my hand at recreational crabbing back in 2017 with former OSG Fellow, Deanna Caracciolo, and my husband, Cole (note: we did, in fact, get some crab that day!)

Much to my dismay, I have yet to take the obligatory headshot holding a crab for use in all work-related presentations, so instead, here is a picture of me and my pup, Charlie, enjoying a beautiful day exploring our new home!”

under: Uncategorized

I received an incredible opportunity to attend a portion of the annual meeting for the Oregon Chapter of The Wildlife Society. One event that particularly stood out to me was a workshop about building interpersonal and group communication skills for resolving conflict in natural resources. From my experience, natural resource conflict usually arises between industries, conservation, and regulatory bodies. Whether it be commercial fishing, ranching, logging, or farming, there is almost always and equal and opposite conservation voice, advocating for the revision of industry practices and policy and a government agency constrained by time, resources, and politics.

So how do high level policy makers leverage the interests of all stakeholders? While one side heavily supports multiple sectors of Oregon’s diverse economic profile, the other side may be categorically opposed to practices used to mitigate occupational hazards; for example, ranchers lethally removing grey wolves that threaten cattle. How do we mitigate what one group says is morally reprehensible and what the other group says is necessary for economic viability?

In conflict resolution, the strategy that you decide to use depends on the varying levels of importance that policy substance and maintaining relationships have at any given moment (Figure 1). Each strategy is appropriate in different situations, and representative of the time and resources available for the process. While collaboration is typically the goal for long-term, complex, and integrative problems, a competing strategy may be the most appropriate when an emergency is impending and a quick solution is critical.

Figure 1. Situation dependent conflict resolution strategies (adapted from www.mwi.org).

Evaluating and deciding which strategy to use requires a great deal of introspection and flexibility. It require a significant amount of self-awareness to determine if a policy detail is more important than one aspect of a relationship. In reflecting on which strategy I most often use, I typically fluctuate between compromising and competing. This has mainly been due to my short term involvement in different projects, where sustaining and building relationships are much less relevant to solving the acute problem at hand.

This workshop also gave me an opportunity to reflect on the fact that while I typically use the strategy that is most compatible with my personality, it is important to be flexible and utilize the strategy most compatible with the situation and groups I am interacting with. I’ve always been under the impression that collaboration was the best way to handle any problem, however, I did learn that avoiding conflict or accommodating another person’s viewpoint are equally acceptable and valid strategies.

This workshop left me with several lingering questions that will likely only be answered with extensive time and experience;

  • When collaboration is the best strategy, what do we do when groups are too polarized to value relationships?
  • Is it ever possible to fully compromise and how do we mitigate if one side feels like they’ve given up more than the other?
  • How do we effectively balance conflict resolution within agreeing and between opposing groups?

There may not be a right answer to any of these questions, but it is important to evaluate and possess enough self-awareness to contemplate the solutions and promote the development and growth of my own interpersonal communication skills.

under: Bryn Hudson, Natural Resources Policy Fellow

Oregon Sea Grant Sponsored Study Looks at Improving Communication About Environmental Conditions Between Scientific Experts and Oregon’s Natural Resource Managers

It was the beginning of 2016. Unusually warm seawater named “The Blob” collected in the North-East Pacific Ocean. A massive harmful algal bloom formed in Oregon’s coastal waters. High amounts of a marine biotoxin called domoic acid resulted in closures of the recreational razor clam fishery. Almost 5,000 people along the North Coast (where the majority of recreational razor clamming occurs) stayed home because of this closure. “…You can imagine the lost economic opportunities,” said the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife Shellfish Program Manager. “People don’t come out and rent vacation homes or they don’t go camping, they’re not eating in the restaurants, state parks are not filled; all those kinds of things occur because we’ve made this decision to not allow harvest.”

This is just one example of how changing ocean conditions are affecting Oregon’s coastal communities. Now, researchers at Oregon State University are evaluating a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) webinar called NOAA West Watch. Specifically, they are seeing if the webinar can be changed to communicate these extreme environmental conditions to Oregon’s natural resource managers. Currently, NOAA West Watch communicates information about abnormal environmental conditions to NOAA scientists.

Specifically, the research team is including Oregon’s natural resource managers in this webinar to improve regional coordination and communication. This could lead to a more ecosystem-based view for problem solving. To do this, the researchers are inviting a variety of Oregon resource managers, local scientists, and non-governmental organizations to watch the webinars and provide feedback on how to improve the webinar for a more manager-friendly audience.

Why do we need a more “ecosystem-based” view and manager-friendly audience, you may ask? Historically, much of our natural resource science and management occurred on a sector-basis. For example, scientists who studied fisheries often didn’t talk to scientists who studied estuaries. The same often occurred with management, as agencies have specific jobs and management roles in the environment. Managers had to find information across many subjects and determine what was important for their decision-making. Over the past couple of decades, management has shifted to an ecosystem-based management (EBM) framework that considers all ecological and human connections within and to the environment. Despite this mentality shift, natural resource science and management is still highly disjointed.

Strengthening connections between natural resource science and management is increasingly important as our coastal ocean changes. Accordingly, both scientists and managers will have to anticipate and plan for changes to our environment and resources. Evaluating NOAA West Watch can determine if this communication tool can support EBM by including a variety of scientists and managers in a setting that is responsive and adaptive to environmental changes on the West Coast.

Taking A Deep (Ocean) Dive into EBM

To determine if NOAA West Watch is a useful tool for supporting EBM, researchers are evaluating the following:

  1. the most useful spatial scale for information;
  2. if it can connect human and natural systems;
  3. if it can serve as a way for discussing competing environmental values and uses; and
  4. if it can be flexible to changes in the natural and human environments.

On a cold, windy day along the Oregon Coast, it can be easy to want to head indoors and forget about the rest of the world. But as a larger ecosystem, Oregon’s coast is connected not only to the surrounding ocean environment, but also to land. Additionally, the coast serves as a place where humans make connections, including providing opportunities for managers and scientists to work together. Scientists and managers are tasked with effectively studying and managing this diverse, changing ecosystem. To do so, they need to understand ecological and human connections that are occurring in the coastal region. “Sometimes we get so focused on what is happening here that we might fail to look at connections that are happening in other places,” said one Oregon resource manager who participated in the study.

The Oregon State researchers think NOAA West Watch may be able to explore these connections. In particular, the evaluation seeks to determine the most useful spatial scale for the webinar’s information. By considering the West Coast as an ecosystem, scientists can communicate changes in large-scale environmental conditions. Managers would then respond to those changes that can impact local environments and communities. An estuary manager who participated in the study shared, “Thinking about those kinds of bigger-picture issues is always helpful. It takes the blinders off so you’re not just looking at your little estuary; there’s these bigger conditions and factors that are influencing what you’re seeing.”

Additionally, the researchers are seeing if NOAA West Watch can help with the reporting of Oregon’s local marine environmental impacts. As community representatives, Oregon’s managers would speak for a local perspective in global environmental changes. Managers can share community environmental observations with NOAA employees during NOAA West Watch. NOAA can then include these observations in future science and policy. Initial results indicate that NOAA West Watch can help communicate human connections in the larger western regional ecosystem.

 

 Large waves hit Haystack Rock in Pacific City, Oregon Crab pots sit on a fishing dock in Oregon.
Examples of unusual environmental conditions and their impacts to Oregon that were presented in NOAA West Watch. Left, large offshore storms created record high waves along the Oregon coast in January of 2018 that left one dead. Right, delays to commercial Dungeness crabbing along the West Coast resulted in $400 million of direct impacts in January of 2017.

 

Furthermore, evaluators are determining if NOAA West Watch can bring together a wide range of science and management fields to build communication among competing coastal users. Given the ocean’s limited space, stakeholders need to discuss which ocean uses they prefer. However, it can be difficult to explore costs and benefits of certain uses if information is distributed across natural resource subjects. This research seeks to represent a variety of Oregon’s coastal science and management interest in NOAA West Watch webinars. Broad representation may help promote individual connections to build into institutional partnerships.

Compared to land environments, the ocean is generally not as well understood. Therefore, Oregon resource managers have to be flexible to changes in scientific progress. NOAA West Watch may help improve understanding by quickly combining and communicating environmental condition information; Oregon’s managers could then use that information for decision-making. Frequent webinars may help managers monitor changing physical conditions used to anticipate biological events. For example, managers can keep an eye on conditions that may lead to harmful algal blooms and shellfish fishery closures.

January 2017 clorophyll off in Oregon's coastal ocean. March 2017 chlorophyll off Oregon's coast.
NOAA West Watch webinars present environmental condition information to follow changes in the coastal ocean, such as these maps of chlorophyll concentration which can indicate harmful algal blooms. On the left, January 2017 conditions show a low number of phytoplankton, our marine plants. However, two months later (right), chlorophyll concentrations increase, indicating that a harmful algal bloom may be developing.

 

Keeping Pace with Oregon’s Changing Environment

With a changing climate, Oregon is expected to have increased droughts, changes in fish distribution, and increased wildfires. Natural resource scientists and managers have to predict and plan for these types of changes. Oregonians have recreational, economic, cultural, or personal interests in ensuring our resources are managed sustainably for long-term public use.

Ecosystem-based management is a framework that managers work under, and scientists can inform. Better communication can help managers understand our changing environment. Results from this NOAA West Watch evaluation suggest that this communication tool can be changed to fit the needs of an EBM management system. It can connect scientists and Oregon’s natural resource managers to promote collaboration and co-management.

As our coastal environment changes, what marine resources are you concerned about managing? [Comment below!]

  

 

under: mazurem, Robert E. Malouf Marine Studies Scholar, Uncategorized
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How I Rediscovered My Love of Dirt

Posted by: | February 11, 2019 | 1 Comment |

Believe it or not, my fascination with sediment started at about 10 months old. My first ever word was “dirt” (though my mother hotly refutes my father’s recollection of this milestone as she’s certain my first word was “mama”). Despite this early indication of my future passion, my interest in mud somewhat waned in late childhood and all but vanished in high school, as my science classes focused on human anatomy, physics, and chemistry. Who can guess what career path I would be following today had I not been placed, thanks to a testing error, in advanced calculus during my first semester of college? Quickly realizing I was in way over my head, I switched to the only available course that would fit my schedule – introductory geology. My interest in the natural world was quickly rekindled, this time from a more scientific viewpoint. Thanks to my professors and research projects, I discovered my passion for studying coupled human-environment systems, climate change, landscape geochemistry and, of course, mud. Fast forward to today, and I’m a graduate student studying coastal sediment dynamics within Oregon’s estuaries.

3-year-old Erin investigating sedimentary beds in an outcrop in Bermuda.

I outline my somewhat serendipitous path into the earth sciences for the following reason: though the natural world fascinated me from an early age, had I not had the dumb luck to switch into a geology course in college, I would not be studying sediment biogeochemistry today. When I applied to Oregon Sea Grant’s Malouf Scholarship, I did so with the goal of providing kids with exposure to earth science research starting at a young age.

Though most children possess a curiosity about the nature they find in their backyards, K-12 students don’t often take their first science course until high school [1], and many schools choose to focus on physical and life sciences. A 2012-2013 study by the American Geosciences Institute found that only one state required high school students to take a year-long earth and environmental science course for graduation, and only six states required that Earth & Space Science topics be covered for graduation [2]. This is despite the fact that the National Science Standards has placed equal importance on Earth and Space Sciences. Many scientific organizations have also called for equal inclusion of earth science education in K-12 science curricula, including the Geological Society of America, which released a position statement on this topic [3]. Recently, environmental education has received more attention through the introduction of the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), which strives to teach physical, life, and earth & space sciences using inquiry-based course design.

So why is environmental education gaining momentum in K-12 education? Research conducted by eeWorks (a partnership between the North American Association for Environmental Education and Stanford University) found that environmental education improved students’ knowledge in other important fields (including science, math, reading, and writing); emotional and social skills; and academic skills (critical and analytical thinking, and communication). Moreover, it increased students’ desire to learn, environmentally conscious behavior, and interest in civic engagement [4].

Improved knowledge of the earth and natural processes is just the tip of the iceberg for K-12 students who participate in environmental education. Students also showed improvement in other areas [4].

Since beginning my year as a Malouf Scholar I’ve learned a lot about K-12 earth science education. One thing I’ve learned is that there are many others in the state of Oregon who are invested in environmental education beginning in formative years and continuing on through high school. Oregon was one of 26 states nationwide that adopted the NGSS in 2014. Though updates to the Oregon Science Standards has been incremental, the state’s NGSS incorporate disciplinary core ideas related to Earth and Space Sciences that explore environmental science topics related to human activity. The NGSS earth science concepts are now introduced during earlier ages and continue throughout K-12 education. Moreover, NGSS increase student interest in learning by focusing on crosscutting concepts that connect different areas of STEM [5].

Throughout the next few months I’ll learn even more about enhancing environmental education as I finish planning, execute, and reflect on a series of educational events for K-12 students in Oregon. In my next post, I’ll describe the events … Stay tuned!

[1] https://www.nytimes.com/2013/04/10/science/panel-calls-for-broad-changes-in-science-education.html
[2] https://www.americangeosciences.org/sites/default/files/education-ESS-sec-status-report-2013-09-01-13.pdf
[3] https://www.geosociety.org/documents/gsa/positions/pos4_TeachingEarthScience.pdf
[4] https://naaee.org/eepro/research/eeworks/student-outcomes
[5] https://www.oregon.gov/ode/educator-resources/standards/science/Documents/ngss-fact-sheet—teachers-final-7-27-14.pdf

under: Uncategorized

Q1 in the Governor’s Office

Posted by: | December 21, 2018 | 2 Comments |

The first few months in the Governor’s Natural Resources Office have been quite eventful to say that least. From Executive Orders to agency legislative concepts, in my short time here I feel like I’ve been exposed to the guts of how the government works. I’ve been thrown head first into the “Oregon Way”, which describes our processes of implementing policy using collaboration and inclusion. I’ve found that there’s a committee, council, board, commission, or task force for just about everything and everyone!

I’ve only just discovered the wide variety of stakeholders that provide diverse perspectives in natural resource policy-making. It’s truly amazing to see the collaborative process of juggling and satiating groups with completely different agendas regarding the same policy or topic. Given the time of year, Governor Kate Brown’s Recommended Budget is a major discussion item, primarily the proposed creation of the Oregon Climate Authority (OCA). The OCA would absorb the Oregon Department of Energy, assume the operations of the Governor’s Carbon Policy Office, and acquire greenhouse gas emission tracking and reporting tasks at the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality. It would also provide a market place Oregon’s Carbon Cap and Invest program (should that legislation pass in the 2019 session). There was also a suite of proposals to aim to improve state water quality.

I had the opportunity to observe budget discussion in a variety of different contexts; the Ocean Policy Advisory Council (OPAC) and the Environmental Justice Task Force (EJTF) are two that come to mind. OPAC is a body composed of conservation, natural resource, and local government stakeholders. This council advises the Governor about ocean policy, such as ocean acidification mitigation and oil and gas exploration on the Oregon coast. EJTF is composed of members who represent and advocate for minority communities, low-income communities, environmental interests and industry groups. The Task Force guides agency environmental decision-making to protect “Environmental justice communities”, which are communities traditionally underrepresented in public processes.

OPAC’s primary interests were grounded in how the Governor plans to address the issue of ocean acidification and her position on future offshore oil and gas legislation. Because the words “ocean acidification” were not in the budget, it was important to communicate that the creation of the OCA, and a carbon cap and trade program, seeks to address the ultimate root of the problem, which is global climate change. As a lead policy maker in the state, the Governor has the power to guide long-term, institutionalized solutions and for that reason, focuses less on implementation of localized restoration efforts or research initiatives. The Council also felt to make it clear that they were going to recommend the Governor support the permanent ban on offshore oil and gas legislation. OPAC appeared to be very concerned with high-level topics, with big solutions, as chronic problems in out oceans often require.

I carried what I had learned interacting with OPAC, into the EJTF meeting the following week. I was surprised that the Task Force was mostly interested in the budget funding allocated to eliminating the Department of Environmental Quality’s (DEQ) water quality permit backlog. They asked if minority communities, particularly Latino communities, had been disproportionately impacted by this backlog and how DEQ planned to prioritize queue clearing. They were also curious about how DEQ was handling air quality violations following a fire that had occurred at an auto-dismantling facility in the Cully neighborhood earlier this year. I noticed that the members on the EJTF were primarily concerned with local issues impacting very specific communities, rather than the overarching issue of climate change. This is likely due to the fact that the predominate issues facing environmental justice communities, are the result of outsourced environmental impacts of development.

Environmental Justice Task Force with Governor Kate Brown

The main thing I gathered during my interaction with these two different groups is that the environmental issues that a group of people deem as important is completely dependent on the scale and distribution of the problem. This bit of knowledge is important to consider when interacting and advocating for each group, and also when it’s time for the Governor to appoint new members. In the short time with the Governor’s Office, I’ve found that every commission, board and task force provides a place for each stakeholder group to ensure their interests are advocated for in the natural resource policy making process. Each provides a unique perspective to a problem that the collective aims to solve.

under: Natural Resources Policy Fellow

Hi everyone! My name is Emily Mazur, and I’m one of the new Sea Grant Malouf Scholars. I am currently in my second year of my Master’s program in Marine Resource Management at OSU. I am very excited to continue building my relationship with Oregon Sea Grant and Oregon’s coastal communities!

~My journey to graduate school and Oregon~

Before I dive in to my graduate and Malouf work, I want to introduce myself a little further. Growing up in California’s Sacramento Valley, my experience with the ocean was very different from people’s perception of warm LA waters and surfing. Instead, I grew up exploring the tide pools of Northern California, unaware of the diverse life under the sea until we took a family vacation to Hawaii and I snorkeled a tropical reef.

 

A young Emily discovering her affinity for the ocean. (Photo credit: Emily Mazur)

It was on that vacation that I fell in love with the ocean and was determined to learn how I could protect it. I attended college at the University of Miami (I wanted to be in as sunny of a climate as possible!), where I studied marine biology with a marine policy minor. As an undergrad, I had a truly transformative study abroad experience in the Galapagos Island, Ecuador. Prior to living abroad, I had  only been exposed to the science and tourism aspects of the ocean. While in the Galapagos, I began to understand and appreciate the essential roles that the ocean plays in all aspects of community life. From that experience onward, I knew I wanted to work with communities as a representative of their voice in science and management of coastal resources.

The Galapagos community loves their marine creates, such as this Green sea turtle! (Photo credit: Emily Mazur)

 

This is how I ended up here, back on the Best Coast, working with Sea Grant to get an interdisciplinary degree.

~My research~

My research focuses on how to communicate science to our coastal natural resource managers. I want you to think about your favorite coastal resource. Is it shellfish that you harvest at the beach? Fresh fish that you buy from a local fish market? Maybe it’s simply just enjoying our coastline – the rocky intertidal tide pools or state beaches. Now I want you to think of the groups that may manage these resources – fisheries managers, the coastal program, water managers. When these managers make decisions about our resources, we trust that they have access to scientific information to make the best decisions possible. However, it has been difficult for scientists to communicate the necessary scientific information required for resource managers to make the best decisions. This is where my research comes in.

I am working with a webinar series called NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) West Watch that takes information about environmental and coastal conditions (and the impacts of abnormal phenomena) on the West Coast and makes it directly available to resource managers. We think that this webinar can be used as a mechanism for scientists and managers to communicate directly, co-creating knowledge in a less formal capacity than meetings and conferences. We see West Watch as a forum where our natural resource managers can get scientific information they need to make decisions, as well have our managers communicate Oregon’s informational needs to scientific experts.

~My first term as a Malouf Scholar~

So what does my life look like as a researcher and Malouf Scholar? I spend a lot of time building relationships with our state’s natural resource managers through direct communication. This includes trying to figure out our manager’s informational needs to see if NOAA West Watch can be adapted to fit those needs. It is important to build trust, and experiencing a variety of science and management perspectives has made me more aware of how people perceive the environment.

This term has given me opportunities to have face-to-face interactions with a variety of Oregon coastal stakeholders. At Sea Grant Scholar’s Day in October, I saw the diverse student research that Oregon Sea Grant funds, and had thought-provoking conversations with students about my research. At Oregon’s State of the Coast conference, I presented my research and gained valuable insight from both our scientists and managers about the challenges we face with science communication.

Chatting with a coastal stakeholder at the State of the Coast conference this past October. (Photo credit: Oregon Sea Grant)

~Moving forward…~

I would love to use the blog as a way to connect with those who are interested in Sea Grant and our coast. To encourage interactions and dialogue, I will be posing a question at the end of each blog post. For this post, I would like to hear from you about….

What are some abnormal things you’ve seen in the Oregon environment recently (e.g. temperature changes, water changes, animal changes, plant changes, fire, etc.)?

under: Uncategorized

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