I am very lucky and excited to be an Oregon Sea Grant Summer Scholar. I’m from Richmond, Virginia and have been to Portland once before, so this whole experience is very new to me: new wildlife, new friends, new grocery stores, new sites, new workspaces, and new restaurants to try. And I am now realizing how this newness is important to my position with Wild Rivers Coast Alliance. I’m working on a project that surveys the products and pricing of whale watching, kayak, and salmon fishing tours along the Oregon coast. I’ll be analyzing this data to see what kind of experiences are out there and, in turn, communicate these findings to tour operators, scientists, and community members to boost tourism on the Oregon coast.
I was surprised by my first impression of Coos Bay. I was expecting a quaint, sweet coastal town like I’d seen on the internet or in movies. Instead, I found a place where nearly 20% of the population lives below the poverty line, have seen many run-down and struggling businesses, driven past several trailer parks, and noticed a high homeless population. There are some really great and beautiful places in Coos Bay, but the town seems to be struggling. I’m realizing that they could really use an economic boost, possibly brought on by sustainable tourism. Being new to this area and being able to make these observations has helped me realize how important tourism can be to these coastal towns and their community members. It has me even more excited to keep me working on my research to see how tourism affects these places.
In the meantime, I’m going to keep enjoying this beautiful place I get to call home for ten weeks, keep exploring this new area, and trying to identify all the cool wildlife around me!