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Archive for Natural Resources Policy Fellow

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

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

I’ve been extremely busy since my last check-in, which is exactly how I love to work.  Remember, diamonds are made under pressure! 

I’ve learned a lot since publishing my last post –

  1. Creating and supporting ocean policy can be a difficult hands on process of legality, long timelines, and networking.
  2. Engaging the public is necessary at all stages of a policy process, and even though you pride yourself on opening new doors to make it easier to engage, you may not always like what you hear.
  3. Sometimes you have to be comfortable throwing away a meeting agenda while facilitating a large group.
  4. Not every hotel offers complimentary hair conditioner...

The Rocky Shore Road Show

Presenting some background on the TSP Part 3 to some community members in Brookings, OR.

Since we last spoke I have been involved with creating, distributing, and managing a public scoping process to make sure all voices are heard in the Territorial Sea Plan – Part 3 update.  Oregon’s 1st Land Use Planning Goal focuses on public engagement, and as an over controlling, too connected to communication outlets, millennial, I was pretty excited to dive right into doing my best to make sure we explored every way of engaging rocky shore lovers.  This included creating online and printed outreach material, 2 online questionnaires, partnering with organizations who can promote on social media, and hosting 9 public scoping workshops all over the Oregon Coast and Willamette Valley (hence the hair conditioner revelation).

Naturally, lots of pit stops were made during the Rocky Shores Road Show. My mentor Andy Lanier thought it would be fun to document my nearly getting blown off Cape Blanco while trying to take a photo down the South Coast. Update – I did survive these Gail force winds, but my scarf sadly did not.

Some exciting news came recently!  The NOAA Project of Special Merit that I applied for in January has been accepted (based on federal funding of course).  This is by far the largest grant I have ever applied to, let alone gotten!  It will provide nearly $250,000 to support the continuation of the Rocky Shores Management Strategy update process and will also fund the creation of a communications plan to help engage and educate the many people that love and use Oregon’s rocky coast!  Stay tuned, more information is set to be coming in soon!

 

There are some perks to your mentor doubling as a photographer =]

Some Other Thoughts

In addition to the rocky shores process, I’ve been lucky to have the opportunity to aid in other capacities around DLCD and with it’s partners!  Being able to expand into other projects has really opened my eyes to the multitude of things that Oregon’s Coastal Program is really involved in.  It’s astounding that the amazing people here are able to do so much with such a limited staff and a 30% funding cut.  I can’t even imagine what it would be like with full funding.

Reminded myself that I’m still afraid of heights at Blacklock Point!

Here are some of the other aspects of coastal management that I have been thrilled to be involved with – just to name a few

  1. Helping to staff another exciting Ocean Policy Advisory Council Meeting – and creating briefing materials to update the council on the Rocky Shores Process.
  2. Lead the efforts in promoting tribal nations correspondence for the Rocky Shores process and the Coastal Program as a whole.
  3. Learning about the many aspects of federal consistency and enforceable policies and bringing those into the Rocky Shores Process.
  4. Too many presentations to count!
  5. GIS – turns out I’m not naturally gifted at using ArcGIS…go figure…but I’m still working along to gain those skills!  Thank goodness for a patient mentor =]
  6. Gaining experience reviewing participant and company applications for different RFP’s and positions

I figured I should mix it up for once and show one of the amazing terrestrial things I’ve gotten to enjoy as a part of all of my travels. During one of our first trips to the south coast we got the most spectacular glimpse of a heard of elk in the Umpqua River Valley. The whole heard was grazing on the juicy grasses supported by the estuary. As we stood there the heard moved closer and closer until they were only tens of feet from us! Being an east coaster I couldn’t help but stand in aw of these vegetarian beasts and jokingly think “that’s the biggest white tailed deer I’ve ever seen!”

Finally, and somewhat non-related:  My possible over-use of #ILoveMyJob on Instagram has now become the butt of all my friends jokes…but what can I say… #ILoveMyJob and I don’t care who knows it!

under: Natural Resources Policy Fellow, Uncategorized

DLCD Month #1

Posted by: | October 7, 2017 | 2 Comments |

What a whirlwind of month!  Things have been very busy with exciting new personal and professional experiences!  From crab fishing to preparing for the first Territorial Sea Plan Rocky Shores working group meeting.  Traveling with the Coastal Program has been eye opening.  Even though I have been in Oregon for 2 years, there is still so much to learn about marine policy.  It has really made me appreciate the work that the coastal program does.

In preparation for the first TSPRS Working Group Andy put me to work on the OregonOcean.info website as well as the Citizens Guide to the Amendment Process and a needs survey.  Since, the website has been published along with the document.  Check it out at the link above!

We have also been traveling a bunch for different conferences spanning from Portland to Florence with many more to come!

Week 1 – OWET Conference in Portland.  Pictured is a marine cable cross section.

 

Week 2 (I think) – Coastal Staff Meeting in Newport, OR.  We also walked the evacuation route and tried to figure out how many fellows/past fellows we could fit in a photo!

 

Week 2 – My dogter, Timber, Mananita State Park after my first morning crabbing!

 

Week 4 – Florence Oregon for the Symposium by the Sea Conference

under: caraccid

At the very end of the legislative session, on the very last day, Oregon took a big step in the fight against the impacts of ocean acidification and hypoxia.  Oregon’s Legislative Assembly passed a bill called SB 1039, relating to ocean chemistry. This bill declares state policy on ocean acidification and hypoxia and forms a 13 member council, the Oregon Coordinating Council on Ocean Acidification and Hypoxia. Why are either of those things important?

First, setting state policy demonstrates to the public, neighboring states and the world that OAH is affecting Oregon, that Oregon is a leader in research and monitoring on OAH, and that Oregon is taking the impacts of OAH seriously. Now, to be fair, Oregon has arguably been demonstrating some of these already by participating in regional collaborations to address OAH like the West Coast OAH Science Panel, the International OA Alliance, and the OAH Monitoring Task Force with Federal agencies. Regional collaboration is valuable, but Oregon’s marine resources and coastal communities face specific local impacts of OAH too. Acknowledging that the impacts of OAH are especially profound in Oregon and threatens Oregon’s resources and communities is critical to work towards finding solutions to mitigate and adapt to OAH.

So, how will this bill actually help address OAH in Oregon? Big thorny problems are daunting. No one change in policy or program will solve them. There are pros and cons to almost all ideas to address big problems. Limited funding, capacity and will needs to be focused on the ideas that stand the most chance to make the biggest difference while minimizing the costs. The Oregon Coordinating Council on Ocean Acidification (OA Council) hopes to do just that. By formally gathering representatives from state agencies, academia, fishing and shellfish industries, Native American tribes, and other thinkers and charging them with coordinating the Oregon’s response to the impacts of OAH, Oregon hopes to effectively address OAH in a way that works for Oregon.

The OA Council is charged with identifying research and monitoring priorities to better understand OAH, and recommending priority actions the state could take to address OAH. Maybe those actions include active mitigation, increasing monitoring and research capacity, identifying socioeconomic impacts of OAH, increasing public awareness of OAH or leveraging local work on OAH in coordination with regional and even international efforts. Other states, such as Maine, Maryland, and Washington have taken a similar approach to addressing OAH, forming multi-stakeholder panels to coordinate state action.

Addressing ocean acidification could be contentious because it may involve prioritizing some uses of the ocean over others. For instance, protecting or restoring eel grass beds has been proposed by scientists as a way to help mitigate acidic ocean conditions, at least near the eel grass. Eel grass could help oysters thrive, but can make it harder to harvest the oysters. One method to harvest oysters involves dredging the sediment to collect the oysters, but dredging disrupts eel grass, at least temporarily. So, how to design a program of restoring eel grass to protect the shellfish industry without displacing the very industry we are trying to help? Having extensive stakeholder involvement from the very beginning is the best way to find solutions and broker compromises that can actually be implemented.

My role in the Governor’s office was to support the drafting the language and making sure interested parties were aware of developments as the legislature considered the bill. Much of the work coming up with a concept for the bill happened before I joined the Governor’s office, but I still felt a sense of ownership watching the bill work its way from introduction, through amendments, through Senate and House committees and finally seeing it get passed.

My time in the Governor’s office has now ended and I’ve been reflecting on what I accomplished during my year as a Natural Resources Policy Fellow. I found working on policies to combat the effects of climate change on the ocean was the most compelling and interesting part of my work. The OA Council stands out to me as a concrete step forward to address ocean acidification, one of the repercussions of climate change that is already affecting Oregon’s waters.

 

 

under: Natural Resources Policy Fellow, sea_day

The tales we tell…

Posted by: | June 5, 2017 | 2 Comments |

Stories are a near universal aspect of human existence. They define who we are as a people, illustrate the values we hold as individuals, and provide a common medium by which to communicate the shared human experience. The more that I delve into my work and examine myself, the more I realize how integral storytelling is. On any given day, any single aspect of my work can ultimately be related back to some form of narrative, whether that is looking for a shared narrative or spinning some of my own novel yarns.

One way that we use stories is to connect the public, or some subset of it, to the places, resources, and activities that the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) manages on their behalf. By invoking imagery, cultural values, and common experiences associated with the resources that we manage, we are able to better communicate the results of our stewardship and inform the public.

A great example of this is the outreach and education materials that the Marine Reserves Program produces.You can check out some of their work on their website. Some of this material describes the structure of the program or the status of recent monitoring trips while others communicate issues of concern, like Ocean Acidification (OA). They have produced a wonderful the wonderful video below where you can learn about what causes it and how it relates to the Oregon coast and see many of the great people that I work with.

 

Sometimes the stories we tell are not to convey new information but demonstrate involvement and commitment to an issue. This last week, Cat Dayger and I have been editing press releases describing the work of the Ocean Acidification Alliance (alliance). The alliance is the nonprofit we helped launch to elevate OA on the international stage. The press releases are intended to highlight the West Coast regional efforts to address OA in light of the alliance attending the Ocean Conference hosted by the United Nations in New York this upcoming week.

The alliance, as well as California, Oregon, and Washington, are all making voluntary commitments towards Sustainable Development Goal 14.3 to continue their work on global ocean change and OA. The narrative here was not to tell a new story about OA but to keep the spotlight on the issue and communicate that work is underway to understand and address it. Sometimes the issues or status of a topic can be more effectively told not with words or other traditional media but through other means…

Everyone has heard the adage that “a picture is worth a thousand words.” Most people, however, don’t usually bring charts, tables, or maps to mind when they hear this phrase, let alone matrices or databases. But data is essentially the building block, or base-unit, that scientists work with. Every dataset has a story that it can tell and part of what scientists do is to use visual, mathematical, and statistical tools to piece together the plot points of a dataset’s story, identify its main characters, and expose the details hidden beneath the surface.

During my time with ODFW, I have been hard at work creating an interactive toolset to illustrate the story behind  the Ocean Acidification and Hypoxia (OAH) Monitoring Inventory which is one of the main projects I work on. The OAH Monitoring Inventory is a catalog of monitoring assets (buoys, moorings, sensors, etc.) and research projects related to OAH that helps determine where OAH is already being monitored and where it needs to be monitored more. This is very similar to the inventory a restaurant manager takes at the end of a week before ordering more supplies. However, before we can decide where to place new instruments, we must understand the “lay of the land,” as it were, by identifying where assets are located, what they are collecting, and how long have they been there. These are are just a handful of the 70+ odd bits of descriptive information that were recorded. To communicate the complexities of this in a typical narrative would be almost certainly lose some of the finer details of the inventory’s story. Unfortunately, this interactive web app still needs some refining but I hope to be able to share it soon.

Storytelling is an innate practice permeating nearly every facet of our lives. When we are at home playing a game, reading a book, or watching netflix we are ‘listening’ to the tales presented before us. Moving out into the real world to telling stories with friends around a bonfire, tall tales on social media, or drafting a press release we move from consuming to weaving our own tapestries. Framing and polishing a narrative to reflect either how we want to be perceived or best fits the situational context. Medium is yet another facet that can change the experience. Some elements of a story will be more apparent in one format and lost via another. When watching a movie of a popular book your favorite character can take on an entirely new light due to how they are portrayed. With technical information this is no less true. The takeaways one has looking at a table of values will be far different than those represented on a map or plotted in a chart. All of these differences demonstrate how deeply saturated we are in stories and how they color our perceptions and, in turn, our own personal narratives.

I look forward to the opportunity to continue to ‘tell my tales’ here to you and to the audience of my professional work.

under: Natural Resources Policy Fellow
Tags: , , ,

It’s started folks, the 2017 Oregon Legislative Session is here, as of Feb 1. Working in the Governor’s office I could feel the wave building, a collective anticipation of the impending deluge of legislative concerns around the office. I won’t say that folks braced for impact, but there was the feeling of straightening of shoulders and a clearing of decks.

Already one week of the session has passed and I’ve already learned so much about how government works. Before Session, I knew in the back of my mind that bills introduced to the legislature would be posted online, or would at least be subject to public records requests. I hadn’t ever gone looking for what my legislators were up to or what issues where the topic of discussion in the halls of the Capitol. If I came across legislation at all, it was filtered through an advocacy group telling me I should care about it via an email or a petition circulated through social media.

Now, especially given the increased interest in activism since the Presidential election in November, I tell everyone I know to go searching. Until very recently, I was in the position of not quite knowing how to find out what’s happening in the Oregon legislature. Fear not, here are three steps to get plugged in:

Step one: Find out who’s introducing what. Go to the Oregon State Legislature’s Oregon Legislative Information System https://olis.leg.state.or.us. On the top left corner, you can click “Bills” and you can search by bill text (that’s keywords), bill sponsor (that’s which legislator(s) supports the bill by sponsoring it) or by bill number (good for if you’re already familiar with a bill from another source, like a newspaper article). If you’ve read my previous blog posts, you might guess that I searched “ocean” right away and you’d be correct (26 bills with some mention of ocean in the text!).

Step two: Do some research. You can read the bill on OLIS…they often aren’t nearly as dense and unreadable as you might think. You can read about any considerations regarding financial impact on various industries. If the bill has received any hearings in committees* you can read summaries and testimonies. You can even WATCH a video or live feed of the hearing! On the subject of committees, once a bill is introduced (or “dropped” if you’re hip to the lingo), it gets assigned to a committee of legislators with knowledge of the subject area. Figure out what committee your bill of interest is in.

Do an internet search for the bill or the associated keywords and see who’s talking about it. Maybe there’s an analysis or opinion from a news organization, or an advocacy group which you could read critically to inform your opinion. Talk to your friends and family (civil discourse y’all…) and see what they think. Is there a bill that you like or don’t like a whole bunch?

Step three: Tell your legislators what YOU think (find your legislator and their contact info here). Which legislators are on the committee considering the bill? Contact them too. Is the bill up for a hearing? Go testify at the hearing, or if that’s logistically unfeasible or too intimidating, submit some written testimony (on the committee page there is a link to an “exhibit email”).

They listen, truly. I know because I’m now occasionally party to citizens telling their government what they think about the decisions being made. Sometimes folks voice their support for a decision or a bill. More often, folks speak up when they don’t like something. Maybe that’s human nature.

You can do the same thing for the US Congress in Washington, D.C. You can search the bills that have been “dropped.” You can find your legislators in the Senate and House.

Go forth and be informed!

under: Natural Resources Policy Fellow, sea_day

Welcome to the first blog post of the 2016-2017 Oregon Sea Grant Natural Resources Policy Fellow! It feels like an impressive title compared to PhD student, the hat I’ve been wearing for the past 5 years. Basically everything about this fellowship is different from what I experienced as a full-time PhD student and I find that I can’t stop marveling at the contrasts.

For one thing, I have a regular schedule. My husband has heard me say a million times “Science waits for no one” to explain why I unexpectedly needed to stay late at the lab, work weekends, and go into the lab early in the morning.

An imposing building to work in to go with my imposing - maybe just long - title.

An imposing building to work in to go with my imposing – maybe just long – title.

Bench science – experiments in a lab – often take more or less (ha! never!) time than expected, which means making plans with friends and family are constantly derailed or postponed. Now, as a Policy Fellow working in the Governor’s office, my schedule is largely confined to regular business hours. There are holidays! I find the more predictable schedule refreshing.

For another, I am surrounded by colleagues excelling in the career I see for myself pursuing. I knew fairly early on in my PhD career that I was not interested in a career in academia, at least not at an institution primarily focused on research. I love doing bench science and field work, and I love the teaching and mentoring I’ve done, but the prospect of packing grant writing and academic service on committees around research and teaching only fills me with dread rather than excitement. I find that I am inspired and focused in ways I haven’t felt in a while because I’m immersed in the field I’m most interested in. I guess I’m also relieved to feel like I’ve made the right choice.

IMG_0045

The State of Oregon coffee (tea) cup I bought the first day at the Capitol.

Not everything is so different though. I still work primarily independently, at least so far. I spend some time working as part of a team on projects with tight deadlines, which I’ve always perversely found enjoyable. And I still drink tea almost constantly at my desk. How do people live without hot drinks?

One of the unexpected surprises of my first few weeks has been the commute to Salem, OR. I was dreading it, frankly, but I’ve been riding the Amtrak train and watching the sunrise over the farm fields recalls to me the time I spent driving through corn fields to feed horses and go to horse shows early in the morning when I lived in Michigan and Illinois. It seems I still have a soft spot

The tumble of morning glories on my walk to work.

The tumble of morning glories on my walk to work.

for early mornings in rural America. I’m also enjoying exploring Salem itself on my lunch breaks. I keep finding this beauty out of the blue that stops me, literally, in my tracks.

I don’t have much to report on the actual work I’m doing yet. I’m still getting on all the right people’s radar so they know I’m the person to contact about ocean and coastal issues. Today, I look forward to attending the Oregon Shellfish Task Force meeting where they will finalize their recommendations to the legislature. I’ve been hearing about the progress of Shellfish Task Force for more than a year from Kessina Lee, my predecessor and PSU Biology colleague, so it’s exciting to see the product of all that work.

Next time, I hope to be able to outline the projects I’ll be working on and maybe highlight some of the neat architecture and sculpture I get to walk by every day working around the Oregon State Capitol.

 

 

under: Natural Resources Policy Fellow, sea_day
Tags: , , , ,

For two days in Newport in May, over 40 natural and social scientists and agency natural resource managers met to discuss research and monitoring priorities in Oregon’s nearshore. Convened by the Oregon Ocean Science Trust with funding support from The Nature Conservancy, Oregon Sea Grant, and the Packard Foundation, the goal of the workshop was to identify and prioritize research and monitoring funding needs, scalable to budget resources available, to provide baseline and trend data and inform key research questions. These research questions could relate specifically to changing ocean conditions such as ocean acidification and hypoxia, marine habitat, fish and wildlife, and the vulnerability and resilience of coastal communities to changing ocean conditions and the effects on marine resources.

The Oregon Ocean Science Trust is intended to serve as a funding mechanism for research and monitoring in Oregon, and by convening an interdisciplinary Science Summit to prioritize funding needs, the Trust will better be able to direct available funds to the most relevant and urgent areas. The attendees at the Summit were a Who’s Who of oceanography, fisheries science, marine ecology, geochemistry, economics, sociology, and anthropology. It would have been enough to be a fly on the wall for this event, but I was fortunate to be one of the breakout session facilitators. The breakouts were organized to spread representatives of different disciplines out among all the groups, making the groups as academically diverse as possible. Each group was then tasked with generating research and monitoring plans at three different budget levels that would address key nearshore questions. There were great back-and-forth discussions, and it was fascinating when all the groups came back together, to see how each group had approached the tasks. As a facilitator, I used a much lighter touch than I otherwise might have because it seemed like a good idea to let the conversation and exchange between group members really develop, and then bring everybody back to the template we were given. The end result will be a report with key research themes, questions, and monitoring approaches identified, as well as a plan for a comprehensive research and monitoring program for Oregon’s nearshore with three budget levels identified. The event, which was conceived of in late January, came together quickly and nearly everyone invited was able to attend, and produced substantial results which can be used to guide funding for important efforts in the nearshore as we face changing ocean conditions and the related impacts on communities. Definitely one of the coolest gatherings I’ve gotten to attend in my time with OSG!

under: Natural Resources Policy Fellow
Tags: , , , , , , ,

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
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