Meet Alyssa Purslow, a 2024 Natural Resource Policy Fellow

Hi all,

My name is Alyssa Purslow, and I am currently serving as a 2024 Natural Resource Policy Fellow, working as a Restoration Project Impact Analyst for Coastal Watersheds with the Tillamook Estuaries Partnership (TEP). Located at the Port of Garibaldi, TEP is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to conserving and restoring tidal wetlands. Our goals include building habitats, reducing flooding, reviving salmon and other native fish populations, supporting the restoration and growth of native plants, and providing education and public outreach to the local community.If you would like to learn more, please visit our website or social media pages listed below.

In Tillamook County, healthy estuaries are vital to the local economy and community. TEP is committed to improving watershed health through scientific methods and community involvement. Our mission emphasizes the importance of clean water in rivers, streams, and bays for current and future generations. As a grassroots, non-profit organization, we focus on estuarine restoration, monitoring, and education. Recognized nationally, we operate under a Comprehensive Conservation and Management Plan (CCMP), supported by partners, volunteers, and board members.

As the Oregon Sea Grant fellow, my role at TEP focuses on visiting and assessing post-implementation restoration, fish passage, and riparian area treatments in Tillamook County. I started with TEP remotely from the Bay Area in California, and for the past three months, I have been temporarily living on the Northern Oregon Coast to visit post-implementation sites. Of the 11 sites listed, I have visited 8, with the last 3 planned for the next two weeks. After completing these visits, I will return to the Bay Area and finish the rest of the work remotely.

I am currently visiting and documenting the success of these projects, which range from 5 to 20 years post-implementation. The sites span 5 watersheds: Tillamook, Trask, Nestucca, Kilchis, and Sand Lake-Frontal Pacific Ocean, 8 sub-watersheds: Middle Fork North Fork Trask River, Upper Tillamook River, Nestucca River, Beaver Creek, Farmer Creek-Nestucca River, Elk Creek-Nestucca River, Little South Fork Kilchis River, and Netarts Bay-Frontal Pacific Ocean, and 11 creeks: Cruiser Creek, Fawcett Creek, Killam Creek, Smith Creek, E. Beaver Creek, Wolfe Creek, Hawk Creek, Maps Creek, and Jackson Creek.

I look forward to posting my progress as I continue to work through the fellowship.

2024 Natural Resource Policy Fellow, Alyssa Purslow

Cheers!

Alyssa

Website & Social Media Links

Tillamook Estuaries Partnership (tbnep.org)

Instagram

Facebook

LinkedIn

Introducing Natural Resource Policy Fellow Maddie Foley

Hi everyone!

I’m Maddie Foley, a fellow in the Natural Resource and Policy Fellowship working with Oregon Sea Grant to expand educational programs centered around the commercial fishing industry. Graduating with a Master’s in Biological Oceanography with a focus on the movement ecology of gulls from Stony Brook University, I found myself drawn to a more policy – oriented career path. Subsequently, I made my way back to the West Coast.

I’m passionate about science communication, accessibility, and sustainability. I believe that one of the greatest ways someone can contribute to sustainability is through their purchasing choices as a consumer. By purchasing from local sources of seafood, you’re supporting an industry that is geared towards sustainability and the people who make plating a fish possible. Knowing where food comes from and understanding the effort that goes into providing it is something that gives me feeling of confidence in what I choose to eat and respect to the environment that provided it. I aim to carry that feeling into my work, more specifically the pilot programs I, Jamie Doyle, Amanda Gladics, and Angee Doerr will be premiering in Charleston, Port Orford, and Brookings. I’m very excited to pilot and lead some tours myself, and can’t wait to see how our pilot programs go.

Discover Oregon Seafood tours are aimed towards anyone who has an interest in learning more about their local seafood industry and the people who are a part of it. Shop at the Dock tours that run in Newport, Oregon during the summer months provided the framework for Discover Oregon Seafood’s tours. The goal is to educate both locals and tourists on where and how they can buy fish when it’s being sold off the docks, how the gear that catches their fish works, and how the fishery itself is managed. If we’re lucky, we’ll be able to chat with a local fishermen, and hear firsthand about the human dimension of commercial fishing! Shop at the Dock will be continuing in Newport and returning to Garibaldi this summer, along with our pilot programs. Dates for Discover Oregon Seafood tours and Shop at the Dock will be announced soon – so keep an eye out!

Fishing boats in Newport, OR.

Natural Resources in the Context of the Confederated Tribes of the Coos, Lower Umpqua, and Siuslaw Indians

 Posted on behalf of Kayla Stevenson

Hello again from Seattle! My work with the Confederated Tribes of the Coos, Lower Umpqua, and Siuslaw Indians (CTCLUSI) is steadily making progress. In early April, I drove down to Coos Bay to host a writing workshop with the Department of Culture and Natural Resources staff for my work on the Climate Change Vulnerability Assessment. I had prepared topics for us to discuss but left it open to address any issues or complexities that arose relevant to the framing of the Climate Change Vulnerability Assessment. The workshop allowed for in-person discussions and problem-solving and revealed new issues to consider, which I discuss below. 

Something that came up during the workshop was how the area of interest for the Confederated Tribes of the Coos, Lower Umpqua, and Siuslaw Indians spans across multiple geographies and encompasses diverse ecosystems, each with its own set of vulnerabilities. In the development of the Climate Change Vulnerability Assessment, it became clear that I needed to consider the interconnectedness of environmental issues across ecosystems.

Salmon in the Pacific Northwest is an example of the complexity of natural resources that span multiple geographies. As an anadromous species, salmon traverse various ecosystems during their life cycle and therefore need to be included at multiple points in the Climate Change Vulnerability Assessment. This led to another question during the workshop: what is the best way to categorize and organize a vulnerability assessment? We looked at different examples from other northwest Tribes and realized that, for the unique context of CTCLUSI, the assessment needed to serve multiple purposes, including a vulnerability assessment of not only natural resources but also how CTCLUSI properties will be exposed to climate change impacts. That said, it became clear that the assessment needed to consider damage protection and resource conservation. How do we safeguard Tribal properties and economic assets while mitigating future vulnerabilities? This necessitated a nuanced approach, considering both immediate concerns and long-term sustainability goals. Related to long-term sustainability goals came the question of how to approach climate modeling in the report. During the workshop, we talked about intergenerational responsibility, specifically from the perspective of planning for the next seven generations. 

One of the main takeaways from the workshop was recognizing the importance of a holistic approach to climate change vulnerability and adaptation. This work requires comprehensive strategies that integrate traditional knowledge with scientific research, braiding knowledge to navigate environmental challenges. The workshop served as a crucial step in understanding the complexities of Climate Change Vulnerability Assessment in the context of CTCLUSI and a way to reflect on methodologies for designing climate change adaptation documents.

Introducing Isaac Olson

Posted on behalf of Isaac Olson

I recently completed my time as an undergraduate at the University of Washington, where I studied Oceanography and Environmental Studies. Throughout my college career, I have studied a variety of coastal anthropogenic stressors, including ocean acidification (OA), harmful algal blooms, and microplastics. Communication, environmental justice, and diversity, equity, and inclusion principles are central tenets of both my research and community work. Recently, I interned with NOAA’s Ocean Acidification Program, helping create a variety of regionalized OA communication and education materials as a Hollings Scholar.

This summer, I will be interning with the Oregon Coastal & Ocean Information Network (OCOIN), a partnership between Portland State University, Oregon State University, Oregon’s Coastal and Marine Data Network, and Oregon Coastal Management Program. Specifically, I will work to enhance the Oregon coastal and ocean information-policy network through a variety of outreach and tech-support projects, including by contributing to OCOIN’s outreach materials, research platform, and website. There will be a focus on equitable data sharing and sovereignty, something particularly exciting to me as a proponent of increased diversity and justice in the geosciences.

Enjoying sunrise in Anchorage, Alaska

Introducing Rana Almassmoum

Posted on behalf of Rana Almassmoum

My name is Rana and I am a junior studying marine studies with a minor in natural resources at Oregon State University. I am from Saudi Arabia but moved to Oregon for school a few years ago. Having spent my whole life along the coast, the ocean has always held a special place in my heart. I have fond memories of exploring the tide pools, fishing, and gazing out at the endless ocean horizon. Eventually, those memories inspired me to come to OSU, hoping to learn more about coastal studies in a different region. Given the global threats facing our coasts, I decided to concentrate my studies on coastal management and policy to strike a balance between ecosystem protection and public access. I hope to play a vital role in protecting coastal areas and allow others to develop the same sense of wonder for our oceans that I discovered as a child.

This summer, I am excited to take on an internship with ICAN that is focused on coastal management and global collaborations. This experience will help strengthen my existing skills and knowledge while exposing me to new areas that can benefit my grad school application as well as my career path. With this internship, I hope to gain the necessary experience that will allow me to work directly with global ocean initiatives, supporting the implementation of management strategies that will drive significant positive change for our coasts. 

Best,

Rana Almassmoum

Introducing Destiny Coleman

Posted on behalf of Destiny Coleman

Here I am pictured in the Florida A&M University, School of the Environment laboratories with my pet fish and a few books I am currently reading. 

I am Destiny Coleman, a graduating senior studying Environmental Science at Florida A&M University. I plan to pursue a career in research and conservation of marine life and environments, specifically targeting marine mammals. Marine biology has been my passion since I was a child, and science and nature have worked their way into major portions of my life. I have a pet crested gecko (Harlequinn) and 7 “plant babies” that I enjoy incorporating into my daily life. Although I enjoy blurring the line between my career interests and personal life, I do value the friendships I have built throughout my college career and a large portion of my free time is dedicated to maintaining those relationships. I enjoy being the “planner” friend who always has creative ideas to bring diverse individuals together for something that can be mutually enjoyed. In my alone time, I have reclaimed my love for reading, scrapbooking, and I often dive and snorkel with friends from school. This summer, I am excited to have the opportunity to contribute to the SEACOR project and receive hands-on experience in coastal biology before I continue my career as an early scientist.

Miss Destiny Coleman

4th year Environmental Science

Florida A&M University 

Introducing Linnea Ingrid Gebauer

Posted on Behalf of Linnea

My name is Linnea Gebauer, and I’m a rising junior at Occidental College in Los Angeles, majoring in Biology with a minor in Religious Studies. I grew up in Southern Oregon, and have always loved taking trips to the Oregon Coast! Marine biology has always been an interest of mine, and I’m especially interested in the impact of human activity on the ecology and biodiversity of marine habitats. This past school year I’ve also had the opportunity to give science presentations at local elementary schools, and I’ve really enjoyed getting more involved in science communication and outreach! I’m passionate about making science accessible and engaging for all audiences. I’m also a student researcher in Occidental’s Computational Biology lab, where we focus on computational methods in urban wildlife ecology and conservation biology. I’m excited to explore the intersection of scientific research, outreach, and education this summer working with the ODFW Water Program!

This is me holding a boa constrictor in my Zoology lab!

Additionally, I haven’t heard anything yet from my host about background checks, so I’m assuming that isn’t needed for my position. I think that’s everything, but let me know if I can provide any other information!

Best,

Linnea

 Introducing Kayla Stevenson, Natural Resource Policy Fellow with Oregon Sea Grant

Posted on belhaf of Kayla Stevenson

Hello! I’d like to introduce myself. My name is Kayla Stevenson, and I am currently a Natural Resource Policy Fellow with Oregon Sea Grant. I graduated from the University of Washington with a Master’s in Marine Affairs and a Master of Arts in International Studies in 2023.  I am a Tribal Climate Adaptation Specialist for the Confederated Tribes of Coos, Lower Umpqua, and Siuslaw Indians (CTCLUSI). The purpose of my position is to write a climate change vulnerability assessment for the Tribe. This involves researching current climate change impacts that directly affect members of the Tribe, including issues such as sea level rise, coastal erosion, changes in precipitation, and more. The report includes an assessment of natural and cultural resources that will be affected by climate change. Impacts that I have so far noted are possible obstacles associated with recreation and harvesting, such as harmful algal blooms and toxic cyanobacteria which has the potential to harm people who are interacting with the environment. The climate change vulnerability report will serve as a jumping-off point for future climate change planning for the Tribe, including a climate adaptation plan. 

The climate change vulnerability assessment is a large undertaking and involves becoming an expert in a variety of topics and considering the possible impacts climatic changes will have on the tribe. In this role, it is of utmost importance for me to consider community concerns, as Tribal members are currently and will continue to experience the impacts of climate change. To engage the Tribal community, my supervisors and I crafted a climate change priority survey to assess what CTCLUSI Tribal members are most concerned about regarding climate change impacts. Part of the distribution of this survey included going to Florence to participate in and distribute surveys at the Tribal holiday party in December. It was an honor to be invited to the event. Tribal members sang songs, shared prayers, and enjoyed delicious food. This is a critical part of involvement at a socio-cultural level, as I felt that understanding community concerns about climate change would inform priorities for my research on the Climate Change Vulnerability Assessment. Additionally, it was informative to drive down to Coos Bay and Florence to get a visual understanding of CTCLUSI’s ancestral lands and current Tribal properties. Since I work remotely in Seattle, it was important for me to physically travel to Coos Bay and see the ecosystems that I am writing about. It has been an exciting couple of months, stay tuned for more to come!

Surprise! The Marine Reserves Bill is Back for Round Two

Hello everyone!

Just like the marine reserves bill, I’m back in Salem for the 2024 session.

This time around, things are going to be a little different. Though the Legislature convenes every year, on odd-numbered years we hold a “long session” that lasts about five months while on even-numbered years there’s a “short session” that only lasts about five weeks. Last session, I wrote a blog post that used the journey of the marine reserves bill (then HB 2903) to provide a high-level overview of the legislative process. Seeing as we just entered the abbreviated short session, this seemed like the perfect opportunity to continue to use the marine reserves bill (now HB 4132) to do a rapid-fire deep dive into the legislative process. Since I’ve covered it before, I’m not going to rehash what this bill is about and why it’s so important in this post, but if you want to dig into that check out my first blog post here.

Picture of the State Capitol Building in Salem Oregon
State Capitol Building in Salem, Oregon; Credit: RG – stock.adobe.com

Here’s the plan: each week I’m going to focus on a different step in the legislative process – from policy development to a signature from the Governor (fingers crossed the bill makes it that far). In this post, I’m going to cover everything that went into preparing this bill for the 2024 session during the five-month session interim. Let’s get into it!

July – September: The session interim is a time for brainstorming and policy development. First things first, you need an idea. These ideas can come from anywhere, from legislators to staff to advocates to constituents. Once you have an idea, you need to translate it into a bill draft. Typically, this involves forming a working group of advocates, experts, people with lived experience, and other legislators and staff. In our case, a lot of the policy development was informed by conversations with individuals at conservation organizations like the Oregon chapters of Surfrider, Oceana, and the Nature Conservancy as well as community-based organizations affiliated with each of the marine reserves.

Since this working group was formed prior to session last year, we entered the session interim ready to hit the ground running. The moment the 2023 session ended the group began dissecting why the bill didn’t pass and what issues needed to be addressed to set us up for success in 2024. Since our bill relates to a program within the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW), we also spent time communicating with ODFW leadership and staff to nail down exactly what resources were needed to address the proposed mandates. After all these conversations, we arrived at the conclusion that the best path forward was to run the exact same bill as last session.

October – November: Once October hit, it was time to start working with Legislative Council (LC). LC is essentially the legislature’s law firm, responsible for drafting every measure and amendment you see during the session. It’s typically the goal to have your bill introduced on the first day of session. In that case, there are several presession deadlines you need to be aware of, one of which is the LC draft request deadline. This deadline typically falls in September for the long session and November for the short session. The moral of the story here is, if you want to work with a legislator on a policy concept, start doing so early. Once these deadlines have passed, especially during the short session, there’s not a lot your legislator can do to address your request until the following session.

Lucky for us, working with LC was a painless process, largely because we were recycling language from the previous session. In no time, LC provided us with a legislative concept (confusingly also abbreviated as LC), which is essentially a formal bill draft with a number and everything.

December: In December, our working group kicked things into high gear, developing outreach materials and lobbying tools designed to build a broad coalition of support for the marine reserves bill. Representative Gomberg’s office also began having conversations with the Chair of the committee our bill would likely be assigned to: the House Committee on Agriculture, Land Use, Natural Resources, and Water. Though each of these steps are always important, the former is particularly critical during the long session when there is more time to drum up support while the latter is crucial when entering a short session when you need the Committee to schedule your bill for a public hearing during the first week of session.

January: Once you have your legislative concept and additional communication materials on your bill, it’s time to start looking for Sponsors. Over the month of January, we were able to drum up support on both sides of the aisle and across the House and the Senate. The goal is to bring on Sponsors who can act as champions for your bill in relevant Committees and in the opposite Chamber (in this case, the Senate). During session, members can only sign on to a bill as a Sponsor when it’s in their Chamber. Therefore, it’s important to get these kinds of Sponsors prior to the start of session so you know that you have someone prepared to guide your bill through the legislative process when it moves to the opposite Chamber.

Once you’ve gathered your Sponsors, all that’s left to do is file your bill with the Chief Clerk’s Office before the pre-session deadline. Oh, and then you have to do everything else required during session to get your bill over the finish line, but one step at a time. In my next post I’ll cover the first week of the 2024 session and do a deep dive into the public hearing process. If you want to stay up to date with the movement of HB 4132 through the legislative process in real-time, check out the bill’s OLIS page and click “e-Subscribe” in the top right corner (photo below). This is a great way to stay up to date with this bill and any others of interest to you during session.

Picture of the OLIS webpage with the link to e-subscribe to a bill.

Well, for anyone who made it this far, thanks for reading! I’ll check back in next week.

An Update on Oregon’s Marine Reserves

Hello everyone!

As promised, I’m back with an update on HB 2903 and Oregon’s marine reserves. Buckle your seatbelt because you are in for a bumpy ride.

Back when I left you in April, everything was full steam ahead. HB 2903 had passed unanimously out of its first House committee and was sitting in the Joint Committee on Ways and Means awaiting the announcement of the state revenue forecast. To give you some context as to what that means, here is some background on the legislative process.

When a bill is created, it can be introduced in either chamber: the Senate or the House. In this case, the bill got its start in the House. Its first stop is the House floor where the bill will be read before the Chamber and referred to a policy committee for further discussion. In this case, HB 2903 was referred to the House Committee on Agriculture, Land Use, Natural Resources, and Water. Once a bill reaches committee, it needs to be scheduled for a public hearing, during which individuals may provide public testimony in reference to the bill and its objectives. Following the public hearing, the bill must be scheduled for a work session where a committee can act on a bill (e.g., make amendments or take a vote).

At this point, the committee can vote on the bill and, often, the bill will move back to the Chamber for a full vote. However, if a bill has a fiscal ask, as was the case with HB 2903, it has one more stop before it can be called for a vote on the floor: the Joint Committee on Ways and Means. There are some internal processes that go on once the bill reaches Ways and Means that we do not need to get into here. What is important is, if the bill makes its way out of its Ways and Means work session with a “do pass” recommendation, then it is ready to be put to a vote on the floor.

Once a bill successfully makes its way out of the first Chamber it then makes its way to the second, in this case, HB 2903 would have gone on to the Senate. There the bill will be read, make a procedural pitstop in Ways and Means, and then come back to the second Chamber floor for a vote. Assuming the bill withstands all of that, it will finally be passed on to the Governor to be signed into law.

A diagram of the legislative process describing a bill's movement from it's first reading until eventually being signed into law.
Diagram of the legislative process.

As you have probably gathered, HB 2903 did not make it that far.

The session took a sudden turn when Senate Republicans walked out on May 3rd (I’m not going to dig into it in this blog, but if you want to read more about it, you can do so here and here). In the state of Oregon, the Senate chamber must achieve a 2/3 quorum in order to vote on bills. Therefore, by walking out, Senate Republicans were able to effectively pause all bill movement in the Senate even though the Democratic party held the majority.

By the end of May, there was no sign of the Senate reaching quorum and HB 2903 was trapped in Ways and Means with nowhere to go. It was time to search for other avenues.

On top of policy bills like HB 2903, there are also bills that handle agency budgets. Passing these budgetary bills is one of the most important tasks for the State legislature. While policy bills will just die if they don’t pass during the regular session, budgetary bills must pass, and a special session will be called if the legislature cannot do so during the regular session. Therefore, Representative Gomberg, the Chair of the Coastal Caucus, got in contact with the Co-Chairs of Ways and Means and requested that the fiscal component of HB 2903 be included in HB 5509, which appropriates money from the General Fund to ODFW for a period of two years.

We knew this ask was going to be tough. Each session, the Governor’s office releases a recommended budget, which is essentially a proposal based on state revenue forecasts on how state funds should be allocated. The Governor’s office then negotiates with various parties, including legislative leaders and members of the Joint Committee on Ways and Means to generate a budget that will be voted on at the end of the session. When Governor Kotek released her recommended budget back in January, funds were looking tight, and many agencies were preparing to make cuts to afford for reduced revenues. One of those cuts was the Community Project Leader position within ODFW’s Marine Reserves program. So, the Caucus wasn’t just advocating for new funding, they were also working against a proposed cut.

On the one hand, this cut made sense: the position related to the cut had been vacant for three years. However, advocates and the Coastal Caucus argued the story around this vacancy was more complex and in part the result of two failed recruitments and a hiring freeze during the pandemic. It was the position of the Coastal Caucus that this context made the situation unique from other prolonged vacancies and that to permanently lose this position would be to permanently sever a critical connection point between coastal communities and marine reserves.

At this point, we had one last option: to advocate for the inclusion of HB 2903 and funding for cut position in the end of session budget reconciliation bill. This bill tends to be comprised of several smaller, often unrelated policies or amendments. Its tendency to have a little something for everyone gave this bill its nickname: the Christmas Tree Bill.

Around that time, the Senate returned to the floor, wrapping up the longest walkout in state history and leaving ten days to move all the remaining bills through the Senate. Now the marine reserves bill was not unpopular. In fact, it was extremely non-controversial and had a lot of community support. However, in the flurry of legislative action that followed the Senate’s return, funding for the marine reserves bill never materialized. It is unclear if under different circumstances marine reserves funding would have been given higher priority, but the pace of the final week of session certainly posed a challenge for legislators trying to negotiate for last-minute additions in the budgeting process.

I guess if I were to sum up the major lesson from this process, it would be **** happens. You can craft a bill to sail through the legislative process and a storm can come out of nowhere and sink it. In the end, it wasn’t anyone’s fault, it wasn’t because we didn’t try hard enough, there were just so many incredibly important priorities this session and ours didn’t make the cut. And that doesn’t mean the journey is over. The Coastal Caucus is still very much committed to Oregon’s Marine Reserves Program and is actively strategizing for the coming short session. I’ve learned so much from this experience and I can’t wait to see how the next iteration of this work will turn out.

A photo of a woman and two Senators speaking on the Senate floor.
This is unrelated to marine reserves, but please enjoy this photo of me looking very professional on the Senate floor.