header image

When I last wrote about the Oregon Shellfish Initiative, the bill to create it was working its way through the 2015 legislative session. House Bill 2209 passed both houses and was signed by the Governor, and a whole new phase of work began. The bill created the Oregon Shellfish Task Force, an 11-member group charged with producing a report to the 2017 Legislature with recommendations related to shellfish in Oregon. The issues to be addressed by the Task Force include creating an efficient permitting process for shellfish growers–eliminating regulatory overlap and gaps where possible and encouraging communication among regulatory agencies, establishing best management practices for cultivated shellfish in Oregon, protection and restoration of wild and native shellfish stocks for conservation as well as recreational harvest, supporting ocean acidification research in collaboration with shellfish growers, and assessing the socioeconomic impacts of commercial and recreational shellfish on Oregon’s coastal communities.

Around this same time, my term as the Oregon Sea Grant Legislative Fellow was coming to an end. Fortunately for me, I was able to move across the street to the Governor’s staff offices and into the position previously occupied by the fabulous Kaity Goldsmith as the Natural Resource Policy Fellow working on ocean and coastal issues. Though the Governor’s office doesn’t have an official role with the Task Force, I’ve been able to support the work in an unofficial capacity, providing an informational presentation at the first meeting, and meeting with committee staff to provide background information and help ensure that interested stakeholders are at the table.

The Task Force convened in November and has been meeting approximately every other month. The fourth meeting is coming up next week, and this halfway point in their process seems like a good time to weigh in on their work to date. After an initial organizational and informational first meeting in November to bring up to speed those TF members who were new to the conversation, the January meeting was held at Hatfield Marine Science Center in Newport and focused on shellfish research in Oregon, particularly related to the effects of ocean acidification and changing ocean conditions on oysters and other bivalves. The meeting also included a tour of the research facilities at HMSC where Oregon State researchers Chris Langdon and Burke Hales research the effects of changing ocean chemistry, including Dr. Langdon’s Molluscan Broodstock Program which aims to select oyster broodstock that is resistant to increased CO2, temperature, and other fluctuations. The third meeting, held in Salem at the Capitol, focused on the role of federal and state agencies in the shellfish industry, as well as conservation concerns related to wildstock and native oysters. Representatives from several federal and state agencies discussed their role in permitting and regulating the shellfish industry in Oregon. It was a very productive meeting, with some agencies presenting efforts they are already making to simplify the permitting process, and several others bringing recommendations for opportunities to increase inter-agency collaboration and communication in order to make the process more efficient. Dr. Bill Hanshumaker, Oregon Sea Grant Chief Scientist, also presented to the Task Force on work Sea Grant will be doing to support development of a coordinated statewide program to support Oregon aquaculture, expansion of new and existing shellfish operations through reduced regulatory barriers, and supporting shellfish aquaculture operations in being more diversified and sustainable in the nearshore, offshore, and estuary environments.

On a related note, I was invited to represent Oregon in a Shellfish Initiatives session at the World Aquaculture Society triennial conference in Las Vegas in February. The session was kicked off by Michael Rubino, director of NOAA Fisheries Office of Aquaculture in Silver Spring, Maryland, who gave an update on the National Shellfish Initiative, introduced in 2011. The presentations then started with Alaska and proceeded south with Washington, Oregon, and California, and then to the Gulf states and up the East Coast including Maryland, Rhode Island, and Connecticut. It was fascinating to hear where other states are in their Shellfish Initiative process and how they’re approaching supporting their shellfish industries. It was also the first time I had a clear sense of where Oregon falls in this larger context, and I was pleased to note that we are right in step with the other states–not as far along as Washington, Maryland, and Rhode Island, all of whom started before we did, but further along than other states who haven’t had the support of legislators like our Coastal Caucus who have really helped drive this process.

I do work on other issues besides shellfish, but it’s been great to have the continuity with this effort for the last sixteen months or so, and to see the  results taking shape.

In my next post I’ll try to encapsulate the other things I’ve gotten to work on:  ocean acidification, marine debris, and the launch of the Oregon Ocean Science Trust.


under: Kessina Lee, Legislative Fellow, Natural Resources Policy Fellow, Uncategorized
Tags: , , , , , , ,

Well. Things have certainly been happening. When you last heard from me, it was nearly a year ago. I was finishing my last quarter of classes and heading into total thesis writing mode. I have since presented at two conferences, successfully defended my thesis and received a M.S. diploma in Marine Resource Management from Oregon State University.

What then (you may be asking your computer) am I doing still writing a blog for Sea Grant?

It turns out that Sea Grant will support us even after we graduate through different fellowships and I was one of four fortunate ladies from Oregon State to be selected for the Knauss Marine Policy Fellowship. The fellowship is for graduate students (and recently graduated graduate students) who are interested in marine, coastal, and aquatic resources and the national policies surrounding them. This fellowship places these students with a host institution in the legislative or executive government in Washington, D.C. to learn all that they can in one year. So now I am hosted by NOAA Fisheries in their Office of Science and Technology and I work on protected resources topics (think whales, dolphins, sea turtles, corals). We also get to take advantage of being in Washington, D.C. to attend hearings on the hill, special talks and events, and their associated receptions. Never having researched any of these things nor attended any events like the ones here, I have a lot to learn. That said, I am confident I have the adaptable mindset that will allow me to keep up with the crowd while I am here.

So. The fellowship began February 1 and I have already done so many things that I could write an individual blog about but time has gotten away from me. So rather than write a detailed blog about each one and fall further behind, I will catch you up with a top ten list of the last month and a half. (Note: my top ten lists rarely reach or stop at 10, nor do they reflect any order of prioritization). That said, I do want to start with the by-far coolest thing I’ve done so far and that is….

Go to Peru!!!

That’s right, I went to Peru as part of my fellowship. How? Let me back up. Each fellow prepares a “professional development plan” with support of their host. I was discussing mine with my host and said I want to go to two conferences but was flexible as to which. She suggested I go to the International Sea Turtle Society Symposium on Sea Turtle Biology and Conservation for a crash course in sea turtle biology and conservation (what else?). We looked it up, saw that it was in 10 days, in Lima, Peru and we began turning the wheels to make that travel happen. And it did! And I will use this forum to again thank Oregon Sea Grant for putting in the rush order on approval for the expense. I had been in Peru in a tourist, professional capacity before (see blog about it here if you’re interested), and personal capacity before but never for science! And I had been to conferences before but never with the diversity of attendees I saw at this conference. My previous conferences had been mainly academic researchers talking about many different topics. Here the topic was sea turtles but academic researchers, federal, state officials, conservation groups, and private companies were talking about it. How neat is that? I learned about the techniques of sea turtle research, its limits, costs, and outcomes, the current conservation status and activities in different places, and about different citizen science and development activities happening all over the world. Sea turtle biology and conservation is a new field for me, but if these are the other people who are doing it, I could see myself getting into it. The conference was a sharing of knowledge of beloved critters and a family reunion of the researchers.

So that was definitely the best part of the last 7 weeks but before this blog gets too long, on to the top ten list of the first 7 weeks of the Knauss Fellowship.

  1. Move in – If you recall, there was a giant snow storm that hit the east coast at the end of January. Shortly after that snowstorm hit, I moved in to my little basement apartment. My dad and I had been on the road for four days when we stopped in sweet home Chicago to let the storm wear itself out. I also got to eat my fill of home cooking before getting the all clear from friends on the ground in DC to come ahead. The storm was over. But the flurry of activity was about to begin.
  2. Orientation – My fellow Knaussians may complain about an orientation but I think we would all recognize it as a necessity. After just one overwhelming day in our offices on our own, we were reunited with each other to get an overview of national Sea Grant and a 101 on how to work for the federal government and get everything we can out of this fellowship. I appreciated it for the reunion of my fellow fellows with whom we had bonded so well during placement week. Let me know if you want more information on placement week.
  3. NOAA Open House – Just one week after “working” at NOAA, I volunteered to help with NOAA’s outreach event where they open the doors to the federal building and host exhibits for the public to come and learn about what NOAA does. I spent two hours helping kids test their PVC, frisbee, and zip tie buoys by placing them in a pool of water and loading them down with “scientific instruments” (golf balls). I think the record was 170! Then I spent another two hours talking with passersby about marine debris. In the down time I wandered and learned more about NOAA for myself. The day ended with a stop in the hurricane simulator and a free t-shirt.
  4. Meeting alphabet overload – The first week or two I followed my hosts around to their meetings and took extensive notes. Later, I would look up the acronyms online and try to figure out what I had just listened to. In one wonderful meeting where I met everyone in our division and heard what they were up to, the boss stopped every person mid-reporting to tell me the meaning of the acronym they had just used. It’s safe to say this office has had fellows before and is looking out for us as we navigate the year. Allies found!
  5. Hill experience – I have gotten this in a few ways so far. First, I have gone to a few receptions held in Senate buildings. These were a great introduction to the grandeur that one experiences while looking around the Senate buildings. Let’s just say there’s a lot of marble. Then, I was glad to be invited to accompany Oregon Sea Grant director, Shelby Walker, and Fellowship Program Leader, Sarah Kolesar, to visit staffers of two Oregon congress-folk to talk about Sea Grant and how great it is. I had never been in a senator’s or a representative’s office before and you could say it was like most other offices. But! There were Oregon things everywhere! There was even a square of the PDX carpet in both offices! And when you peered into the offices of other state representatives, you could see that they had decked their offices out to represent their states as well. Alaska has a bear pelt on the wall! The third way I’ve gotten to the hill so far is to attend a house committee hearing on the NOAA budget. Never having gone to a hearing before, I took in the rules of conduct for these meetings, where people sat, the formality with which representatives and witnesses addressed each other, and the flow of the meeting. I learned much more by being in the room than I had by watching a live stream a couple of weeks before.
  6. Continuing with thesis sharing – Last week I joined two PIs from OSU to share my thesis research at the National Science Foundation building via a poster. The fellowship affords the flexibility to continue to work on my graduate school projects. This meant I could share my results with NSF in this forum and that I can work on publishing. And this is good, because if they didn’t allow me the time, I don’t know when I would get it done.
  7. Over-caffeination – They way to get to know people is to go get coffee. So I’ve been doing a lot of that. So I’ve been drinking a lot of coffee. And I know what you’re thinking – Laura, just order something without caffeine. -To which I respond – coffee tastes good and even the decaf version has a little bit of caffeine so you can’t truly escape it. But it’s worth it because through these coffee trips, I’ve gotten to know the people around me and begun to build my community.
  8. Trivia – speaking of building the community. You put one little fact about you in your blurb like “I like pub trivia” and you’ve got people in the office inviting you to come out to play at various places around town. If it’s not coming through that my office is making me feel welcome yet, I should put in more bullet points.
  9. Brunch – DC loves brunch. I had brunch three Sundays in a row when I moved here. I love brunch. But even I have my limits of how often I can go out to eat it…and how long I will wait for a table to have it. I guess that’s what living in a city means.
  10. Enviro-Run – There is always something to do in this town and one of these things combines two of my favorite things – running and environmental studies. One night, I joined a group of folks for a four mile run on the mall, past the White House, Washington Monument, Korean War Memorial, and Lincoln Memorial. We then met in the upstairs room of a bar called the Science Club and talked about habitat restoration with a NOAA official. How neat is that?
  11. Star struck – OK, so not actually movie or rock stars but seeing some big names in marine resource science, management, and policy. And it’s kind of weird seeing people who’s names you’ve read on important federal documents or press releases or studies. I haven’t had time to fully digest this yet, but it’s on my radar.
  12. True spring – I know the weather in Oregon is wonderful. I’m not being sarcastic – I do love it. But being here as we head into spring reminds me of what spring actually is and makes me think that I missed it without me even realizing it. The temperature will swing from 35 one day to 80 the next. I biked in shorts and a tank top yesterday but on Sunday they are forecasting snow! And as the weather warms, the deciduous trees trees begin to come back and flower. The dramatic shift from bare to blooming is inspiring and beautiful.

OK, so it was a top 12 list with one extra. For a first post on the Knauss, I think this is awfully true to how the first weeks have been – a whirlwind of activities with little time to process and reflect. You can probably already tell that this fellowship will be full of experiences. I hope to share them with you more completely and thoughtfully in the months to come.

under: Knauss Fellow, Laura Ferguson

Saying goodbye to Winter

Posted by: | March 15, 2016 | 1 Comment |

Winter has been amazing in Portland. Growing up in an area on the northern California coast that is perpetually in rain or fog, the last couple years have been tough. Although the California drought was not as severe as further south, the unusual lack of moisture and hot, sunny days were unsettling, especially when the redwoods started shedding needles (even small branches) more than usual. So being further north in Portland where there was constant rain was comforting. Even though it did get wet enough for a couple mild flooding events, I was able to take comfort from the grey skies. But now spring is coming and I keep hearing about how colorful the spring bloom can be in Portland. And with the season change comes the field season.

Although a bit different from my original plan, I will start doing regular outreach for my thesis project starting in just over a week with the beginning of spring quarter. Originally I thought I would be doing this sooner, but after talking with some trusted cohorts and reading up on methods, I took this quarter to develop methodology. Collecting data via interview and participatory mapping to apply to natural resource management is still a newer and developing field. It is still somewhat experimental, and I wanted to make it easy for the interviewee to disseminate information. Talking about a place where you or a family member fished, hunted, or gathered is easy enough, but when you also have to place it spatially it gets a bit more tricky. Especially when you get down to coves so small there is no official name. Originally I thought I was going to be asking questions with a voice recorder, and handing over a tablet with an interactive map on it. But after reading through past projects and asking around with people that have done interviews before, I figured out this may be too much information and new tools at once.

Instead I am taking a step back from technology and going back to paper maps with 3-D topographic relief. These allow people to see the mountain ranges as a raised surface, much like you would mentally orient yourself on the ground instead of trying to interpret the landscape through flat topographic maps or on a tablet. I would be handling the tablet as I talk with the interviewee and making notes on a digital map, but the interviewee would not have to learn the software on the spot. I hope this would take some of the pressure off and make it a more relaxed setting.

That is just one portion of the project that has become much more concrete this quarter and the one that isn’t bogged down with lots of technical details. In the coming months as I am traveling back and forth from the coast I will try to remember to have my camera on me so I can share some of the gorgeous remote wilderness that makes up the Oregon coast.

I hope everyone can get outside and enjoy the coming spring.


Sabra Comet

under: Uncategorized

The beginning of life after school

Posted by: | March 15, 2016 | 1 Comment |

After being in school for the past 22 years I am finally out! Well, out for now at least. Who knows when grad school will pop into the picture? After my Summer Scholars experience last summer adulthood began with a two month trip to Australia and New Zealand. Rough, right? These countries are absolutely stunning. I could fill this entire page with pictures from that trip, as I have thousands, however, I will just share a few with you today.





Milford Sound, NZ 12109110_10153657613917421_753875017114987196_n









Rotorua, NZ










Tongariro Alpine Crossing, NZ 12088573_10153657612827421_8755840072201610345_n









Kaikoura, NZ









Hobbiton, NZ 12072740_10153657611592421_2928379713933009894_n












Milford Sound, NZ




Phillip Island, AUS 12006369_10153596757752421_3768832244041600302_n

Meeting my first kanga in Australia!

It appears I ended up sharing a few more photos than I originally intended, but it’s too difficult to narrow them down!

After the vacation of a life time, I returned to Oregon and began working part-time for the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) and part-time for Oregon Sea Grant (OSG). I am continuing the position I had as a Summer Scholar with ODFW last summer with Marine Reserves Human Dimensions under my mentor Tommy Swearingen. For this position I data mine through literature and write reports for ODFW largely focusing on Oregon coastal communities. I am also employed through OSG as the Summer Scholars Liaison. This has been a fascinating opportunity to experience the program from the other side and learn more about OSG’s inner workings. I can’t give anything away, but I can promise that we will have some fantastic 2016 Summer Scholars from the applications we have received!

under: Uncategorized

Beyond Erin Brockovich

Posted by: | March 3, 2016 | 6 Comments |

Last month I lost my friend and colleague at DEQ, Sonja Bjorn-Hansen to a tragic suicide. I know, not a chipper way to start a blog post but I thought I’d share a bit about her here to honor her memory and the terrific accomplishments she personally made towards protecting Oregon’s environment. Sonja worked in the Water Quality division at DEQ for nearly 25 years, writing permits and contributing to the water quality conversation throughout Oregon and abroad. If anyone knew how water quality policy worked in Oregon – it was her. I have no doubt in my mind that she was one of the most gifted and critical contributors to the work that goes on here at DEQ.  She never shied away from injecting her opinion even if it went against the status quo. She ruffled feathers quite a bit because I believe she was quite the activist at heart.

In the short time that I have worked in the Water Quality Permitting Section, Sonja had helped me both professionally and with morale (its easy to get bogged down in this line of work when you care a lot). She worked directly across from my desk and we would chat quite often about water and policy issues in Oregon and the PNW. We would also talk about her daughter Pei who was in the process of applying to top universities in order to become an engineer like her mom. In short, I thought the world of Sonja. Before she passed, Sonja had shared an article she wrote: Beyond Erin Brokovich which expanded on the original story of Erin Brokovich, an environmental activist-played by Julia Roberts in the Oscar-winning film. If you haven’t seen the film I think you totally should. With the water quality issues that are occuring in Flint, Michigan, the methane leak in Southern California, or the heavy metals in the air right here in Portland, Oregon – the story could not be any more relevant. And believe me the real Erin Brokovich is all over each of these issues (warning she uses some colorful language towards the end).

But Sonja’s angle in her article was about how she, as someone who works in environmental policy and not as an activist, worked tirelessly to accomplish a lot with respect to water quality in Oregon. I found the article to be wonderfully written and an entertaining read. I think if you are interested in issues with water quality you should give her article a read. Its long but worth reading every line.

When I walk by Sonja’s empty desk each day I am reminded of how much she accomplished working in natural resource policy for 25 years. It breaks my heart that her fate happened the way it did, but I feel that I am a better person for having known her. I know you all have a vested interest in our environment. I hope that you never stop losing the momentum that we need to make a positive difference in the world, because we need it now more than ever. I think Oregon Sea Grant is an entity that is vested in the interests in making a positive difference in Oregon. Thank you OSG for allowing me the opportunity to work with Sonja and the other good folks who work tirelessly at ODEQ.

under: Uncategorized

Oregon Sea Grant is accepting applications for our Summer Scholars program, which places qualified undergraduates with natural resource agencies and labs on the Oregon Coast, or with our program, for a summer of field work, research, policy development and/or public engagement work – including participation in this blog. The application deadline is Feb. 22.

The program is open to any undergraduate student who will have completed the equivalent of two years of full time study by June 13, 2016 and who is currently enrolled in any U.S. college or university (or who will have graduated during the 2015-2016 academic year). Students from diverse backgrounds are encouraged to apply.

For complete information about how to apply, visit our Website.

under: Uncategorized


Posted by: | January 26, 2016 | 1 Comment |

After much oscillation, I decided the first slice of my research existence I wanted to discuss would be waves. My motivation for this decision was that when I started this post (a while ago at this point), we had one of the largest wave events experienced by our coast in years. Registering this from my office chair as a buoy reading (http://www.ndbc.noaa.gov/) is one thing but in person they were undeniably the largest waves I have ever seen.


It’s hard to get perspective as this is from the top of Yaquina head (a good distance above the ocean) but take my word that those are big fellows. Like massive earth-shacking mobile mountains. Lake watery whales smashing into shore, roaring and flinging foam at us like salty missiles. From the beach the view looked a bit like I should be running the other direction (something I promptly did).




The beach was literally a wall of white water as far as one could see. During these photos the significant wave height at Bouy 46089 was around 38 feet.

All of us on the coast see waves on a daily basis but, like most things in life, never stop to think about what they are, what causes them, and how do they effect the world we live in. Before we jump into this thought, I should sharpen the focus of our question as waves are one of the most common things in the universe. The light hitting your eyeball as you read this past is a wave as is the sound coming from your headphones. Even matter in small enough sizes behaves as a wave as “Dr. Quantum” would be happy to explain to you:

As I am not nearly as awesome as “Dr Quantum” I will be focusing on water surface gravity waves, a microscopic topic in the vast spectrum of wave phenomenon. This said it is fairly awesome to consider the fact that what we see on the ocean is in many ways a metaphor for some of the more complex and mind blowing physics out there. For example the interference pattern from the double slit experiment in the video above is something that we (as coastal engineers) would have to consider. Previous Malouf scholar Annika O’Dea  (scholar http://seagrant.oregonstate.edu/education/sea-grant-scholars/meet-scholars/annika-odea-2013) was working on this problem in the context of offshore wave energy converters causing a pattern of high and low wave energy which could potentially effect the shoreline.

So shifting back to the question at hand, the first obvious question would be “what is a surface gravity wave?” The first part of the name is wave. I like to think of waves as a transfer of energy, generally accomplished through an oscillation of “something” (medium would be the more scientific name). In our case the “something” is water.  It’s important to note that despite appearances, what is moving not water but energy. The graphic below shows the path of water particles (circular in deep water and elliptical for shallow water).



This is why if you see a seagull on the surface of the ocean, it doesn’t get “pushed” in the direction of wave propagation, but instead appears to do little circles on the surface.

An important caveat to this is that this concept is only true for linear waves and breaks down for nonlinear conditions (within the surf zone would be an example). Linear wave theory results in waves that are sinusoidal. Not so true in the surfzone.


The details of what the “linear assumption” means is a bit mathy and probably beyond what anyone wants to know, but it’s generally quite accurate for normal ocean conditions. I would say remarkably to magically accurate considering what a drastic assumption it is. The realm beyond this is known as non-linear waves.

The second component of the name is “gravity.” This refers to the restoring force for this particular type of wave. All waves require that the medium has an equilibrium position that is being disturbed. The restoring force is what is trying to return the disturbance to the equilibrium position. If we consider a perfectly calm ocean, it would be perfectly flat and in equilibrium. If something disturbs this (say wind for swell or an earthquake for a tsunami) then the surface is moved upward or downward. Gravity tries to restore the surface to the flat condition that would be perfect balance. Other restoring forces could be the capillary force for very small waves (say when wind is just starting to blow over the surface and create ripples). The restoring force can also be much more complex. For example, with Rosby waves it is the variability of the Coriolis force and the requirement for conservation of absolute vorticity.  This article has a fairly good description of this concept for atmospheric Rosby Waves (there is a corresponding phenomenon within the ocean).


The final part of the name is surface. Surface refers to the fact that that the ocean waves are at the surface of the medium. This may seem obvious but the ocean is actually full of internal waves.

Internal waves

Internal Waves within the South China Sea (NASA’s Shuttle- June 1983)

Waves can form at any interface between two layers. For the surface this is an interface between water and air. For internal waves it is generally between layers of different density.

video credit:  Office of Naval Research, NSF, Sixth Man Productions, Edgeworx.

These waves can be larger than sky scrapers and contain massive energy that is critical to the earth’s climate.

So now we have pretty much only defined waves and I’m probably over my word limit so that may be all for the time being. Next up: How do Surface Gravity Waves effect the world we live in?

under: Uncategorized


Posted by: | January 10, 2016 | 1 Comment |


I will try to keep the fall update condensed, as it was a very busy time of year.

I am one of the new Malouf scholars for the 2015-2016 cycle. Getting into the Masters of Environmental Management program at Portland State University was exciting enough, but being awarded the Oregon Sea grant Malouf Scholarship was even more cause for celebration.

The fall quarter was a whirlwind of activity. I moved to Portland in September from rural northern California. In addition to learning how to navigate a large city, I got to explore the wonderful outdoors including the coast around Astoria.

Once school started I focused on getting down a plan of action for my proposed project. I came up with a poster explaining the project I am hoping to complete that will gather Oregon tribes’ past and present use of marine species. Eventually I would like this to help inform the Marine Protected Area baseline. I took this idea in the form of a poster first to the State of the Coast conference in Coos Bay. In addition to the poster session I was able to talk to several professionals in the marine arena, including a representative from the Surfrider Foundation. He later asked me to present the same poster at the Land Sea Symposium in Yachats. At both of the conferences I was able to talk to a variety of professionals, and this has led to some opportunities to potentially participate in various projects and many wonderful contacts for future career development.

In accordance with a class I took at Portland State University, I have drafted a prospectus and have a clear plan for a time table and next steps for 2016, which will include a lot of outreach (especially with tribes) in the coming months.

Although it is currently raining/sleeting outside, I am looking forward to a proper winter with lots of outdoor activities. Wishes to all for a happy and productive 2016.



under: Uncategorized

As a Oregon Sea Grant Natural Resource Policy Fellow, I work with the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality to help develop their storm water monitoring program. The folks at ODEQ develop monitoring and management plans of pollutants that enter Oregon’s aquatic, atmospheric, and terrestrial environments. I have been working with the water quality permitting section of ODEQ, which sounds pretty technical but in reality its simply a group of people who issue permits to municipalities, construction and industrial enterprises, and other agencies who would otherwise discharge pollutants or toxins into Oregon waterways unabated. Water quality permitting is an entirely new area for me, as my primary interests and focus have been in marine ecology, but I always love to grow and learn new things.

So far, I have worked with DEQ and Oregon municipalities to assemble past and current stormwater data and give an assessment of data collection efforts. The issue is that with limited resources DEQ cannot tackle the mountain of annual reports and data that municipalities have been collecting, and both parties have raised concerns about whether their data has or will inform management decisions. This is a huge deal for not only the permittee and DEQ, but also the people of Oregon who deserve to know the condition of their waterways. I will be writing a report that will be finalized around March to present my findings. Hopefully this report will be useful for future data collection and retention in the future and will help inform permit decisions.

Around March I will be segueing into another project focusing on data collection and monitoring of stormwater in industrial and construction sites in the Port of Portland as well as the entire state. This will be similar to the previous project, but will be shorter in scope. Primarily, I will be focusing on data from runoff of heavy metal and pesticides.

There is no shortage of work to be had at DEQ. There are mountains of annual reports and hundreds of Microsoft Access files (I had assumed everyone used Excel, so I had to learn this). Its very dense permitting and policy language, but I am happy when I get to work with data. I feel good about the project and I am learning something completely new.


More to come!

under: Uncategorized


Posted by: | December 17, 2015 | 2 Comments |

Hello World! I am the new Sea Grant Malouf Scholar (Kai) and it is past due time for me to post to the blog. I have been delaying posting due to a whirlwind of ideas as to how I could build a case that would make my research accessible and make sense. My overall project and interests revolve around trying to understand how estuary systems change as a result of climate change. As a bit of a motivation for the problem, the following picture is of Netarts bay along our coast of Oregon.


First of all, beautiful. The coast of Oregon is absolutely epic and everyone should at some point take a trip to soak it in. Second of all, physically there is so much going on in this picture that I could easily talk about it all day. Estuary systems are incredibly complex as they are the meeting point of a variety of environments (land, sea, atmosphere, stream, etc.). The middle of the ocean is nice because it’s just water. Well water and a massive swirling chaos machine know as the atmosphere all of which is spinning on a sphere which makes things appear to curve (the coriollis force). And a massive conveyor belt of currents caused by various temperature and density gradients:


Perpetual Ocean:  https://svs.gsfc.nasa.gov/cgi-bin/details.cgi?aid=3827

So maybe not that nice……. But still better than the coast where you have interaction with land and all the complexities that it brings. In the Netarts picture we see a huge spit (the sandy looking peninsula) has been built as a result of waves slowly, grain by grain pushing sediment for years and years. This in turns modifies the waves (as seen by the odd breaking pattern in there shoals off the tip of the spit). Estuaries also have streamflow coming into the system making density variations and season freshwater influxes a factor. And thats just a taste of the problem. Overall the situation is a mess which is why the geophysics of estuaries is relatively understudied and not particularly well understood.

So my research is trying to work out what drives estuaries but then with the icing on the top: climate change and how it will effect the system. Science assemble!!!!!!!!!


So hopefully over the year I will break down how one goes about approaching this problem. First up…. Waves!


under: Uncategorized

Older Posts »