A Data Scavenger Hunt for a Geographic Location Description

Wow! I can’t believe I am already 8 months into my Fellowship with DLCD, it really has flown by! As I look back, I think one of the main things that have stuck out to me is how close-knit this community really is. It takes several different entities to have a coastal “blue economy” up and running, including resource managers, fishermen, hotel and recreational employees, etc. Each of these people give a unique perspective to coastal management, and I am very excited to continue to grow these relationships in the final 4 months of my fellowship!

My main project has involved looking at the reasonable coastal effects of offshore seafood processing discharge, and writing a document known as a Geographic Location Description (GLD). This GLD will allow the state to review federal activities or federally authorized activities listed in the document, and approved by NOAA. Over the course of my fellowship, I have been able to gather a majority of the data necessary for the state to begin to understand these effects, and map areas of concern. For example, we are aware that land-based processing facilities discharge high impact wastewater; meaning this wastewater has a high Biological Oxygen Demand (BOD). Research has shown that certain areas that are being discharged into have also seen a recurrence of low dissolved oxygen waters. One of the concerns is that these waters mix with state waters resulting in larger hypoxic events along the shelf. While these discharge events are not the sole cause of the hypoxia, we can infer that it most likely cannot help. Issues like these have been at the heart of my project, and it has been very interesting collaborating with resource managers, academic professionals, industry officials, and others to help gather the information necessary for the GLD. (I like to think of it as a scavenger hunt!)

Due to the pandemic response, I am also blessed to be working from home on my project. It was definitely an adjustment at first, but I feel like I am more used to working from my living room now! As I am rounding the corner of my fellowship, I hope to have a GLD ready to turn into NOAA. If not, I hope to have DLCD much closer to having one, than when I began!

Natural Resource Policy Fellowship with the Department of Land Conservation and Development

Posted on Behalf of Nick Tealer

I have truly enjoyed my experience at DLCD so far. We have been extremely busy with public engagement meetings, Commission meetings, state agency collaboration, and so much more! It is encouraging to see this many people passionate about conserving our oceans and protecting vital habitat for threatened/vulnerable species.

While there have been many highlights in my 4 months here, I can say that my experience in Florence was the pinnacle. Every fall and spring, the OCMP Team meets with Coastal City/County Planners to help inform them about legislative developments, agency developments, and other information helpful to urban planning in the coastal zone. The amount of enthusiasm and ingenuity at those engagement hearings were great to see, and be a part of. In that same trip, the OCMP team was able to explore the Heceta Head Lighthouse, and the Florence Dunes. While I have been in Oregon for three years, this was one of my first trips to the south coast, and I truly enjoyed learning about this region’s history.

Florence Dunes in the morning. Photo by Nick Tealer

The relationships I have made throughout this experience have been fantastic. The staff has been extremely accommodating and welcoming to me, as well as other state agency officials that I have had the pleasure of contacting. Ranging from DEQ to ODFW, my experience in coordinating with other state officials has been rewarding. I hope that this trend will continue as I become more experienced in the field of marine policy and habitat conservation.

Beach next to Heceta Head where we had burritos on the beach. Photo by Nick Tealer