Meet Kristen McAlpine, a 2024 Natural Resource Policy Fellow

Hi everyone, I am currently a Natural Resources Policy Fellow working with Oregon Parks and Recreation Department’s (OPRD) Ocean Shore team. I completed my master’s degree in Forest Ecosystems and Society at OSU in 2023. My thesis research was oriented around the human dimensions of Oregon’s marine reserves, which introduced me to some topics of marine resource management. In my fellowship, I am getting even more acquainted with the myriad scientific and policy activities on Oregon’s coast.

Oregon’s beaches, which are all public, fall under OPRD’s jurisdiction and are collectively administered as a state recreation area. The agency’s Ocean Shore team is considered a “central resource” for the agency. While there are many beach and park rangers and managers stationed locally along the entire coast, our team is small, more administrative in function, and focuses on projects, issues, and policies that largely impact the coast as a whole. One of the main functions of our team is to process permit applications for alterations along the coast, such as the construction or installation of accessways (stairways, ramps, etc.), shoreline protective structures (riprap revetments, seawalls, etc.), or other elements that would then have a permanent presence in the public right of way. Aspects of my role include organizing and geolocating these permitted structures, performing an audit for compliance of permissible activities, and analyzing data obtained from these two tasks. As time allows, I will also use these findings to create communication materials for OPRD partners.

A pipe extending onto the ocean shore presents a hazard and an eyesore to beachgoers.

Some of my favorite days of my fellowship so far have – surprise! – been those that I get to spend on the beach. So far, I’ve had the opportunity to attend the Navigating Coastal Hazards Workshop put on by Cascadia Coastlines and Peoples Hazards Research Hub (Cascadia CoPes Hub), go on a tour of the north coast, visit a snowy plover habitat management area (we spotted three down near the surf!), and tour marine reserves with partners from Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, OPRD, and Oregon State Police. I’ve also made a few visits out to the central coast to kick off my auditing project. More on that next time!

On a tour of the north coast, a float from Japan was spotted carrying living specimens of the invasive barnacle Megabalanus rosa. This was promptly reported and sent to scientists tracking and researching such visitors!
A visit to the Snowy Plover habitat management area at Nehalem Bay State Park.