Coastal Hazards Resilience in Oregon

Hi! Like Hailey and Amy, I am new fellow. My name is Felicia Olmeta-Schult and I am the Resilience Fellow for Oregon Sea Grant (OSG). I am in this position since the end of January.

Before joining the OSG family, I was a Washington Sea Grant Hershman fellow with the Washington State Department of Ecology. This is where I started working on coastal hazards resilience issues. I helped improving the Washington Coastal Hazards Resilience Network (CHRN) website. I am grateful to be able to bring some of my experience to OSG and to continue to work on such an important issue. I also work on the side for Coastal News Today and the American Shoreline Podcast Network and I will have my own podcast soon!

Before describing my work at OSG, I would like to share a little more about my background. I am from Corsica, France, and I left my Mediterranean island to study oceanography in Hawaii, marine affairs in Rhode Island, and environmental and natural resource sciences in Washington. I received my PhD from Washington State University Vancouver in 2018. My dissertation investigated the North Coast of California Marine Life Protection Act Initiative by studying how Tribes and stakeholders (e.g., commercial fishermen, NGOs, recreational users) interacted and were involved during the marine protected area (MPA) planning process, and how they perceived socio-economic and ecological effects of MPAs.

As the Resilience Fellow, I work with staff at Oregon Sea Grant and other partners to increase the resilience of Oregon communities to the impacts of climate change and chronic (e.g., sea level rise, coastal erosion and flooding) and acute (e.g., earthquakes and tsunamis) coastal natural hazards .

Since the beginning of my position, I contacted and introduced myself to staff at several agencies and organizations (e.g., Oregon Department of Land Conservation and Development, Coos Watershed Association, Oregon Parks & Recreation, Oregon Partnership for Disaster Resilience, and Oregon Coast Visitors Association). This was a great way for me to have an overview of the work on coastal hazards happening at both the state and local level, and to identify potential work collaborations with these groups. I also had the opportunity to have a guided visit on the Lincoln County coast.

Jay Sennewald, with the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department (OPRD), showed me the damages of coastal erosion this past winter. If you go to Hailey Bond’s blog post, you will see more coastal erosion photos and have a very instructive background on coastal erosion control and policy in Oregon.

You will find below photos I took this April in the same area as Hailey in Lincoln County. I think these photos were taken a couple of months after Hailey took hers. You will notice changes at the landslide site in Gleneden Beach and on Salishan spit. This year, a total of 14 houses applied for emergency permits from the OPRD.

This brings me to my projects as a fellow. For one project, I will identify and create a list of coastal hazards mitigation and adaptation projects in Oregon. For example, one of these projects is the construction of a cobble berm and reinforced foredune to protect Cape Lookout State Park from erosion and flooding (see publication). Our goal is to create an interactive map (i.e., StoryMap) allowing users to see where these projects are localized and to learn more about them via short case studies providing information on adaptation strategies, lessons learned, partners, and grants for example. This effort will be similar to the Washington Coastal Hazards Risk Reduction Project Mapper. However, our case studies, in addition to physical projects, will also include programs, academic research, planning efforts, and local initiatives. We hope this resource will be useful to individuals, communities, and local governments to identify practical approaches to coastal hazards and learn from others facing similar issues in Oregon.

Another project I am working on involves tsunami education and preparedness for the hospitality industry. The Oregon Sea Grant Sustainable Coastal Tourism & Outdoor Recreation Program created the Practical Customer Service (PCS) Training to provide the hotel/lodging and coastal visitor-​industry with a short and free online training. In addition, on the coast, it is important to know the facts about tsunamis and how to communicate them to visitors. Therefore, this training integrates practical customer service with scientific information about tsunamis and the basic safety information we all need to know. At the end of the PCS training there is a link to the Oregon Emergency Management’s Tsunami Safe Training. For this project, we are interested in surveying hotel general managers and staff to have their feedback on the PCS and Tsunami Safe trainings. We also want to identify what hotel management cares about and needs to be successful while keeping their employees ready and resilient when a tsunami hits.

As the other OSG Scholars mentioned, it has been challenging to start a new position in the middle of a pandemic. Thanks to the vaccine, I hope that I will get to meet OSG colleagues and partners in-person soon. In the meantime, my two cats have been very happy with my remote working situation!

I will provide updates on my projects in my next blog. Do not hesitate leaving a comment below if you have any questions!

Thank you for reading!

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One thought on “Coastal Hazards Resilience in Oregon

  1. Hi Felicia, thanks for the blog introduction and this snapshot of your fellowship! It’s great that you can bring the experiences and perspective from your fellowship in Washington–it seems that there may be some shared issues in coastal resilience here in Oregon. Im excited to see that already there are also some parallels between Hailey’s fellowship and yours. I look forward to the story map and am excited to listen in on your podcast!

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