Have a Goal in Sight? Throw Yourself at it.

I don’t want to resort to the old cliché, “the mountains are calling and I must go,” but I answered that call this weekend. It’s been a while since I’ve spent much time rolling ankles over stubborn roots and scrambling over precarious rocks. Despite the fact that I couldn’t find a hiking buddy, I still found it easy to justify a weekend among the peaks where John Muir felt most at home.

Hitting the trail early with a goal in view.

Back in the East, I tackled mountains every weekend I could. I come from the foothills of the Adirondack Mountains, where a two-hour drive to the highest peaks in New York State coupled with a breakfast of gas station coffee and a banana is a regular Saturday routine. I wouldn’t go so far as to say that I live for the 4am mornings, finding my way on the trail under headlamp, but I’ve become so accustomed to that groggy early-morning feeling that it’s almost nostalgic.

Early morning wake up with headlamp.

Once I did some research on the Cascades of Oregon and heard you could summit Oregon’s third highest peak in a day, I was up for the challenge. My tent was already in my car so I smeared some peanut butter and jelly on bread, called it a dinner and hit the road. That night, I tossed and turned on my inflatable sleeping pad, anxiously going over the hike in my mind as if it were a documentary film.

Looking down of Teardrop pool, Oregon’s highest lake, from the loose rock trail.

Now is probably a good time to acknowledge the fact that this is my first time ascending to 10,000 plus feet of elevation on-foot, not to mention that I drove from sea-level. I’ve hiked a similar prominence before, but never to an altitude this high. My body wasn’t exactly thanking me for the elevation change as my lungs panted for air and my head pounded with an unforeseen headache.

Farther than it looks, the summit looms over this steep scramble.

Like most hikes, I had reached that low feeling on the climb where I questioned if I could persist to the summit. The strangest part for me was that I could see where I was headed throughout the entire hike, but never really had a sense of how long it would take me to get there. I’m so acquainted with hiking through dense forest until the trail spits you out above the tree line just a few hundred yards from the summit. This was different.

The final steps to the summit of South Sister.

Perception is a funny thing. On a mountain, it can take your senses for a wild ride. Unsure of when the steep, scree-scrambling climb would end, I focused my eyes on my feet, switched to autopilot and let faith take me the rest of the undetermined distance to the summit. Then, as quickly as the questionable feelings set in, I was confident and pulsing with adrenaline as I lifted my eyes. The summit view was indescribable and clear enough to see as far as Mount Rainier. My head was clear too and I questioned why I even questioned myself in the first place.

Mission accomplished!

In that moment, the summit is the quite literally the peak of the experience. But in the end, it’s about the journey and the people you meet. I was fortunate enough to make friends with a couple from Australia who became my hiking buddies as we followed the loose-cinder trail back down the south side of the volcanic peak. There’s something to be said about a cooperative crew of people on the same path with the same goal in mind.

Stopped for a swim at Moraine Lake after descending.

Don’t Be Shellfish

Eat local. That’s a phrase we hear fairly often these days, especially with the Locavore movement and all its counterparts. After learning throughout my college years how to be a more conscious consumer of food, I’ve always found it both challenging and exciting to eat locally and seasonally.

Two locals harvest their dinner at North Beach, Newport OR.

Here on the Oregon coast, seafood is what’s in season, but of course there are many challenges to being a conscious consumer of seafood. A large part of this is due to a disconnect between consumers and where their seafood is coming from. So how do you ensure the food you’re eating is local, in season and sustainable? One solution (and a fun one at that) is to harvest for yourself!

My roommate Ed digs for razor clams near the North Jetty in Newport, OR.

I have to admit, one of the most exciting outings so far in Oregon has been right across the bay. As the tide goes out at the beach, there is a whole community of marine organisms living right beneath your feet. Some of them might make a tasty meal if you’re lucky enough and know what to look for. Razor clams are not the easiest clams to pursue if you’re an amateur, but certainly worth the effort.

Pacific Razor Clam.

For those of you who may be unfamiliar with catching a razor clam, it goes a little something like this:

  • Step 1: Acquire shovel and bucket
  • Step 2: Find a beach where razor clams may live and wait for a minus low tide
  • Step 3: Run around stomping your feet and look for a tiny depression to form in the sand around you
  • Step 4: Start digging faster than the clam can burrow

Of course that’s not exactly how everyone does it, but it’s sort of a cool excuse to stomp around on the beach and dig holes in the sand just like we all did as a kid. Not to mention, you really have to be sharp with your vision to spot a razor clam (pun intended). A “show,” as they call it, is the little dimple that forms when the clam feels you stomping and starts to dig toward safety. As you can imagine, with an entire community of burrowing organisms (snails, shrimp, crabs, etc) making their own holes and mounds of sand, it can be quite confusing to know what you’re looking for.

Ed digs through a wet slurry of sand and seawater to catch a razor clam.

Once you find a promising show, that’s when the real fun starts. Razor clams can dig fast, and they go deep. These efficient diggers extend their feet downward, while mixing water with sand to make a quicksand mixture that allows them to escape quickly. If you’re an amateur, like my roommate and myself, you may sometimes find dinner slipping away from your fingers after wrestling with a thick slurry of wet sand.

Ed cleans a razor clam to prepare for dinner.

After a morning of chasing razor clams into the sand, Ed and I were able to replace the calories burned digging with a fulfilling meal from local catch. Additionally, I must add that the limit for Pacific Razor Clams is 15 per person per day, but just a few fillets can make a satisfying dinner for one. Catching your limit will definitely help you feed your friends and family, but with sustainability in mind, I might suggest only taking what you need, from different areas of the beach in order to let populations recover. As much fun as it can be to chase razor clams, I think it’s important that we do let some get away, for their sake and for the promise of local, healthy food for generations to come.

A hearty meal of three oven-fried razor clam filets.

Wandering, Not Lost.

One of my connecting flights between the East and West Coast.

After a lot of traveling over the past two weeks, I’ve finally had a chance to rest and reflect. It’s been a mix of both personal and work travel totaling to just about 7,000 miles between plane and car. In short, I now have over 300 completed ODFW ocean literacy surveys and a sister who is married. Admittedly, those are two very distinct accomplishments to group together, but that’s just how busy the past couple of weeks of travel have been.

Oregon beach-goers, whom I would ask to take an ocean awareness survey as part of my work with ODFW.

Coastal visitor intercept surveys.

I wrapped up another successful round of sampling on the coast immediately after spending a week on the East coast for my sister’s wedding. If flying from coast-to-coast wasn’t exhausting enough, getting right back into the groove of driving from beach-to-beach conducting ocean visitor surveys on the Oregon coast definitely added to my collective sleep debt. I’ve been adjusting back to a normal sleep schedule, but all in all, it’s been a productive time and I’ve had a lot of time to think about my personal goals.

Twin Rocks

I’ve never really been able to sit still in one place for long. My built-in drive to constantly stay on the move often it brings me to new places that lead to great new adventures. That’s pretty much the story of how I found my way here (in Newport, Oregon). I went into this summer knowing that I would be leaving a lot behind back in the east, but I maintained the commitment to return home for my sister’s wedding. I guess what I’m getting at here is that travel can take a toll on you physically, and it may not be the most environmentally friendly lifestyle, but it certainly has opened doors to new adventure, education and life direction.

Oswald Beach

As I mentioned earlier, all this travel has given me time to consider my personal goals. Two of my greatest passions are conservation and photography. Between listening to podcasts and catching flights, I’ve been thinking of ways to combine the two into a life career. No matter what goal you have in mind, whether it’s attainable or not, I’ve learned that you just have to throw yourself at it. There’s no right or wrong direction, but if you wander enough, you’ll eventually find where you want to go (and learn a lot along the way).

Survey Count: 314

Whale Count: Still 8


In Full Swing

Somehow, we’re already halfway through the summer. After weeks of preparation and design, this was my first week in the field conducting surveys. Aside from this being a short workweek following the July 4th holiday, the days sure seemed to fly by much quicker than usual. Of course it helps when your office is the Oregon coast and your job is talking to new people. Additionally, I spotted 8 whales off the coast while sampling… my favorite marine animal!

Enjoying the view while conducting surveys at Otter Rock.

This first round of surveys proved successful, without too many visitors reluctant to participate. Surprisingly, the rain and wind doesn’t stop visitors from exploring Oregon’s many coastal attractions. Along the central coast, I met visitors from Germany, Italy, Brazil and Canada. In the coming weeks I will have a change of scenery as we begin sampling on the North and South coast, which I have yet to explore for myself.

Rainy day sampling in Yachats.

Living on the central coast has given me an advantage when answering questions that visitors have while they are filling out their ocean awareness survey. As we expand our sampling range, I will be seeing new places for the first time, along with some of the coastal visitors. If all goes according to plan, I will have traveled the Oregon coast from North to South six times in total by the end of this summer. That’s a lot to pack into the few remaining weeks, but that’s not all I have on my agenda when it comes to exploring Oregon.

Planning a fishing trip “on the fly.”

As time flies by, I’m taking every chance I can to slow down and take it all in. This weekend, I went exploring “on the fly.” Despite some stormy weather that inhibited my prior weekend plans, Sunday shaped up to be fairly nice and I grabbed my fly-fishing rod and took a dirt road into the Siuslaw wilderness to unwind. Well, it wasn’t quite that easy. Fly- fishing generally takes a little more effort and planning, but once you find your spot, it can be one of the most meditative ways to refresh your mind in nature. Of course I’m biased, but there is compelling evidence to support that fly-fishing is truly a natural stress reliever.

Resident cutthroat trout I caught (and released) in the Oregon wilderness.

As my previous blog alluded to, there is good reason to spend our free time out in nature, rather than indoors and in front of a screen. The only trouble I’ve found with spending time in the outdoors is that the more you seek new places and adventures, the more you find you’re missing out on. Oregon is loaded with more opportunities than ten weeks can fulfill, but it’s a matter of making the best of every opportunity as it comes.


Survey Count: 145

Whale Count: 8

More “Green Time,” Less “Screen Time”

I’m going to play Nature’s advocate for a moment. Let’s be honest, many of us are bombarded with constant reminders to unconsciously check our phone or computer on a daily basis. It’s easy to become tied to an electronic device without realizing. For Smartphone users, the convenience of having our entire agenda and communication network stored electronically means that we’re checking our phones from the moment we wake up. Whether it’s the stream of emails, demanding social media notifications or a missed message from friends and family, there is no doubt all the time spent on electronics can have some effect on our mental health.

The most extensive study to date estimates that people across all age groups in the United States check their phone on average 46 times per day, which totals to upwards of 8 billion times a day that all Americans are collectively checking their phones. It has been suggested that as a society, Americans have become so accustomed to daily “screen time” at a young age, that they are getting significantly less “green time.” Only 10 percent of teens in America spend time outside every day, according to a recent Nature Conservancy survey. The documentary film, Play Again, also explores the decrease in “green time” and increase in “screen time” through the case of seven teenagers from Portland, Oregon. Despite being surrounded by ample opportunity to explore outdoors, these young Oregonians exemplify the troubling estimations of American youth spending an average of 7-½ hours per day in front of a screen. As I alluded to in my earlier blog post, the more connection we have to the natural world around us, the more likely we will care enough to conserve it, but have we lost that crucial connection by spending less time outdoors?

Spending green time on a hiking trail in Willamette National Forest.

On a related note, surveys often reveal a good bit of insight into a larger question or issue, which can help inform where changes need to be made. That is exactly the focus of my work at the moment, as I have tirelessly been drafting and rewriting an ocean literacy survey to assess the knowledge of the general public who visits the coast of Oregon. One of the things that struck my curiosity as I wrote and rewrote this survey in collaboration with the ODFW Marine Reserves team has been where individuals receive their information about ocean-related issues. I am interested to find if there is some sort of link between the sources of media where individuals receive information and the gap in knowledge relating to ocean health threats.

I’ll admit, it’s a bit ironic and probably hypocritical for me to play nature’s advocate after spending several full workweeks indoors on a computer, but I took advantage of a three-day weekend off work to ensure that I refreshed my mind in the outdoors. And let me tell you, it worked.

“Immersing” in nature at Tamolitch Blue Pool

Dr. David Strayer, a cognitive psychologist at the University of Utah argues that after three days of wilderness backpacking, our brains perform significantly better on creative problem solving tasks. He calls this the three-day effect, where immersing oneself in nature for long enough can clean one’s “mental windshield” that becomes clouded over from the stress of being indoors. Other studies have shown that it doesn’t take that much to recharge our cognitive function, as just 25 minutes of “green time” can give our brain the rest it needs from “screen time.”

Gazing into the Milky Way from my tent at Blue River Reservoir.

As a frequent saying goes, “there is no wifi in the woods, but I promise you’ll find a better connection.” Driving through Willamette National Forest this weekend, I realized it would have been nice to have service while searching for a campsite, but instead I had to problem solve on my own. With my phone switched off and stowed away, I managed to find an ideal campsite and spent the night losing track of time while gazing at the countless stars. And let me tell you, waking up to the sound of birds chirping and the sunlight penetrating through the trees into your tent feels much more refreshing than the harsh sound of an alarm clock in a dark bedroom. Many others must have received the “green time” memo as well, as all of Willamette was flooded with campers, hikers and outdoor enthusiasts alike. Bearing in mind the statistics of recent “screen time” surveys, it’s a restoring feeling to see others catch up on their vitamin “N.”



Tide Poolers

Tide pools are the wildflower bloom of the marine world. If you time it right, the colorful array of life is revealed from beneath the ocean cover for a brief, yet exciting period of time. Some of the marine life in tide-pools lives between two worlds, spending half of their time fully submerged under seawater and the other half in the air we breathe. I think tide pools are one of the most intriguing ecosystems that exist on this planet.

purple urchins in the tide pools at Yaquina Head

Why is it that these creatures, that become exposed when the tide goes out, can flaunt such vibrant colors and shapes? Wouldn’t they all want to camouflage themselves as rocks to avoid getting eaten? The sun-orange sea stars, huckleberry-purple urchins, seafoam-green anemones, and assorted hermit crabs (to name a few) sport their colors loud and proud. For some of these organisms, it is still not known for certain what the purpose of their vivid coloration is, but one thing is known for certain: this attractive marine life display draws eyes from across the globe to the coast of the Pacific Northwest.

Sea stars and anemones at low tide

This past Saturday, June 25th, we were lucky enough to have a negative-low tide, which (as the name implies) means the lowest tide retreats to a negative number of feet relative to average sea level. For tide-poolers, that means there is a very good chance of seeing the unique marine life that resides at the farthest edge of the low-tide water line. Of course, I am just one of many tide-pool chasers. For many coastal residents and marine enthusiasts alike, tide-pools are an important place. A recent study in 2013 found that exploring tide-pools was among the top three most common activities for Oregon’s marine reserve visitors. While it is encouraging to a conservationist for there to be so much interest in this natural resource, too many visitors can be harmful to such a fragile environment. I’m sure the tide pool residents wouldn’t be pleased to have an army of land-dwelling visitors tromping all over their property.

Purple urchin at negative low tide

In the coming weeks, as I finish up some prep work and solidify my work schedule, I look forward to exploring more of the unique places along the coast, but also learning about the people who use them. As part of my work this summer, I hope to find out how informed coastal visitors feel about issues related to marine areas in order to better inform ocean managers about any potential knowledge gaps or concerns from the general public about our oceans. While I haven’t been able to immediately work out in the field, the work I will eventually be doing along the coast is a crucial element to bettering our understanding of marine reserves. Until then, I’ll continue to familiarize myself with new places in Oregon during my free time!

Angus exploring the tide pools

Thinking Beneath the Surface

Photo of my first encounter with a sea turtle.

Ever hear of the saying, “the head, the hand and the heart?” I’ve learned that thinking, doing and feeling are key elements to bringing about change. If you know about an issue and you can feel the impacts of it, then you are more likely to care about it and take action. The same is true for me with my first encounter with the great sea turtles of Hawaii. When I was younger, I vividly remember the first time I came across one of these massive creatures on the beach and my heart raced as I approached this mysteriously large being that was probably much older than myself. On June 16th this week, people across the globe took part in world sea turtle day in an effort to spike awareness and emphasize the importance of their conservation.

When it comes to conservation problems, there is a lot to think about. In 2005, bycatch accounted for about 17% of all U.S. commercial fisheries catch. This has been a huge problem as a result of heavy fishing pressure with non-selective fishing gear, especially large purse seine and bottom trawl nets. To give perspective, the world’s largest supertrawler, the Atlantic Dawn, is longer than one and a half football fields with an otter trawl big enough for a 747 jet to pass through. As you might imagine, any fish or marine mammal that becomes trapped in this net has no chance of escaping and many in fact drown before being tossed back overboard upon retrieval. As horrifying as this may sound, it is our love for seafood and the sky rocketing demand to feed the population that has led to the implementation of such efficient technology.

So what is being done? For sea turtles, there has been a bit of a success story thanks to the efforts of conservation groups. It is now required by law that shrimp fishermen use Turtle Excluder Devices (or TEDs) to let sea turtles or other large bycatch escape deadly trawl nets. While sea turtle mortality has been reduced by 90 percent as a result, all six species of turtles found in U.S. waters are endangered and still faces threats of survival each year. The decline in marine species stretches far beyond sea turtles, as many species may be slipping into extinction without our knowing.

Otter Rock Marine Reserve.

That is where marine reserves are important. A Marine Reserve constitutes areas “protected from all extractive activities, except as necessary for monitoring or research to evaluate reserve condition, effectiveness, or impact of stressors.” This differs from a Marine Protected Area in that some fishing may be allowed rather than closing off all extractive activities. Both of these are important efforts to reduce fishing pressure on fish that have been harvested at an unsustainable rate.

Just as the sea turtles of Hawaii ignited my passion for their conservation, I see my position this summer with the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife as an opportunity to help bring attention to issues of ocean conservation. I look forward to better understanding the ways humans value, use and depend on marine resources and how Marine Reserves play a part in that. We’ve only just begun to skim the surface but there’s much more to dive into.

Shellfish Initiative: Oregon’s efforts in a nationwide context

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.


Is this the new normal?

For my final blog post, I wanted to discuss a project I have been working on for the past 6 months about a topic that impacts not just ocean and coastal ecosystems but all ecosystems across the state of Oregon. This year, Oregon fresh water systems are seeing harmful algal blooms (HABs), which are toxic to animals and humans, earlier than normal. HABs in the marine environment for the first time caused a coast-wide shut down of the razor clam harvest. The fire season is already ramping up and is predicted to be more severe and last longer than the traditional season. Drought conditions are causing emergency drought declarations across the state. The list of unusual and severe climate conditions and their impacts to the state is growing. While climate is influenced by many factors, including El Niño and the Southern Oscillation, the Pacific Decadal Oscillation, and “the Blob”, some are asking if this is the new norm? Climate change research indicates that it will be. So how prepared is the state of Oregon to maintain economic and social systems in light of this changing environment?
In 2010, the state began to grapple with these changes by writing a Climate Change Adaptation Framework (the Framework) that Oregon natural resource agencies could use as a guide to put plans in place to prepare and manage our systems under changing climatic conditions. The Framework identified 11 risks associated with climate change, many of which we are currently experiencing in the state (table 1). As the state begins to experience the likely future in Oregon, natural resource managers are looking to this Framework to help the state adapt to this new normal. Over the past few months, I have been surveying state natural resource agencies to synthesize their efforts for climate change adaptation since the Framework was created. This status report of adaptation efforts will provide the informational groundwork for moving forward with adaptation work in a more coordinated and strategic manner.


[table id=1 /]


From the momentum and direction established by the 2010 Framework, I have seen that many initiatives and efforts have taken place to address climate change adaptation. The North Coastal Climate Adaptation project is one notable project conducted by the Oregon Department of Land Conservation and Development’s Coastal Management Program and Oregon Sea Grant. This proof of concept project seeks to establish an effective suite of landscape-scale objectives as a foundation for decisions to improve community adaptation. The project has brought together a variety of state and federal agencies, local managers, and NGOs to address climate change adaptation at the landscape scale in Tillamook and Clatsop counties. If this proves a success, a similar format can be used in other communities in the state to address climate change adaptation. I was fortunate to participate in the 3rd of 3 meetings in this project. It was exciting to see such a range of individuals and entities represented at this meeting, and to talk in very practical terms about addressing climate change adaptation in these two counties. Much work remains to implement the strategies established during these meetings, but I am optimistic that this project can have an impact in adaptation efforts at the landscape-scale.
Many other state agencies have taken significant steps toward climate change adaptation. A Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) Regional Adaptation Framework is scheduled to come out early next year. This document will guide DEQ efforts to better integrate climate change adaptation into existing programs. In 2010, Oregon Parks and Recreation Department (OPRD) produced a Climate Change Response and Preparedness Action Plan. Oregon Department of Forestry (ODF) staff have developed a Climate Change Workplan for the Board of Forestry to generate recommendations for climate change adaptation. Oregon Water Resource Department (OWRD) led development of the state’s first Integrated Water Resources Strategy, adopted in August 2012. This Strategy includes two recommended actions aimed at supporting continued basin-scale climate change research efforts, and helping assist water users with climate change adaptation and resiliency strategies. Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) completed “Preparing Oregon’s Fish, Wildlife, and Habitats for Future Climate Change: A Guide for State Adaptation Efforts” in 2008. This Guide has outlined a set of basic guiding principles for managing fish, wildlife, and habitats in a changing climate. Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) developed an Adaptation Strategy, a high level assessment of risks and opportunities, in 2012. Oregon Health Authority (OHA) published a statewide report about the connections between climate change and health, the Climate and Health Profile Report, and works within their Climate and Health Program to better understand how Oregon can prepare for new health risks associated with a changing climate. The Department of Geology and Mineral Industries (DOGAMI) created Coastal Erosion Hazard Maps for Lincoln, Tillamook, and Clatsop County as well as for Gold Beach, Nesika Beach, and Alsea Bay. These are just a few of the state adaptation efforts that have taken place since the establishment of the Framework in 2010 and included in my full synthesis report of Oregon adaptation efforts.
With several adaptation plans completed and many projects planned for the future, there were 2 common themes that emerged regarding climate change adaptation across state agencies. Research and monitoring are critical to decrease uncertainties about specific impacts from climate change for continued adaptation planning. Monitoring has been key in developing adaptation plans in the state. For example, the Coastal Beach Monitoring Network has monitored several locations since 2004 for coastal hazards, like erosion, to use the data and understand changes taking place on the coast and develop trends on the more rigorously monitored sites. The beaches are an integrated indicator of sea level rise, storm increase, and shoreline retreat. There is a need for more monitoring information through the coming decades to continue adaptation planning for all climate related risks. The other theme that emerged was the need to align adaptation efforts across natural resource agencies. Not only was this clear in the projects taking place, but also in the conversations I had. Natural resource managers want to learn about other state agency climate change adaptation efforts and work with other agencies to leverage resources and create comprehensive actions that address the climate change risks impacting a given landscape.
Ultimately, climate change adaptation efforts should and will continue to evolve in the state in the coming years. There is abundant scientific and anecdotal evidence that Oregon is already experiencing the effects of climate change (State of Oregon 2010). The Oregon Climate Assessment Report documents these effects and describes the more pronounced changes that are expected to occur in the coming decades (Oregon Climate Change Research Institute 2010). Climate change will affect all Oregonians, our communities, our natural resources, and our businesses. Adaptation is the Oregon tool for creating resilient and strong communities now and into the future that can withstand changing climate conditions.

Oregon Climate Change Research Institute (2010), Oregon Climate Assessment Report, K.D. Dello and P.W. Mote (eds). College of Oceanic and Atmospheric Sciences, Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR
State of Oregon (2010) The Oregon Climate Change Adaptation Framework. http://www.oregon.gov/ENERGY/GBLWRM/docs/Framework_Final_DLCD.pdf

New Places, New Faces

Over the past year I’ve had the opportunity to become a part of a number of very different communities. These include the scientific community at the Leibniz Institut in Bremen, Germany; the international student community at the University of Essex, England; and a more adventurous community in Bodø, Norway (above the Arctic Circle). As a 2015 Oregon Sea Grant Scholar, I now have the opportunity to join the marine science community at the Hatfield Marine Science Center in Newport, Oregon.


First day working for the Feds–US Environmental Protection Agency

This summer I’ll be working with Dr. Ted DeWitt and Melissa Errend at the EPA Pacific Coastal Ecology Branch Field Station. Coming into my project I thought I’d put together a pretty solid idea of what my project entailed–Ecosystem Service Transferability. Within the first two days, however, I became increasingly uncertain as to what I’m actually really doing here. By Friday morning, I had again returned to a sort of semi-clarity on my direction and summer goals. Nonetheless, I think that it will take a bit more time to really feel comfortable and engaged in the topic I’ll be addressing. For the time being, I’m reading a mountain of papers on carbon sequestration, the oceanic carbon cycle (look beneath the alcohol cabinet key), and the ability of marine environments to store anthropogenic CO2–Known as “Blue Carbon.”

My work doesn’t involve any field or lab work, but hopefully I’ll have the chance to get in the mud, the boat, or the lab with some other projects. I may not have hunted from crabs this week, but this (below) EPA-desk-find has given me a personal goal this summer–Find the Alcohol Cabinet!


What/where is the Alcohol Cabinet, and why do I have a key to it?

On a more serious note, I have two primary professional goals this summer. The first is to produce a case study on ecosystem service transferability robust enough to be incorporated in the EPA’s final report on ecosystem transferability. My second professional goal is to develop my skills in scientific communication both through social media and more standard mediums like posters and powerpoint.

So far I’ve found Oregon pretty fascinating from the ubiquity of Birkenstocks (should I buy a pair to fit in?), to the colloquial “for sure,”  to drive up espresso windows. Newport is a small but busy city with lots to see and do. I’ve already sampled some of the local seafood, Oregon pink shrimp, at the famous Mo’s. Everywhere is surprisingly green, but with temperatures around 14 degrees Celsius the first day I arrived, I was pretty surprised to find the Oregon coast just as cold as Bodø, Norway. Since then, the weather has been extremely pleasant, and to my sincere surprise, there hasn’t been any rain yet. One of my first week highlights is getting to know my fellow Oregon Sea Grant Scholars and the REU students. Together we’ve already had a cookout, beach bonfire, seen Jurassic World, and spent some time identifying the local fauna. Part of our local fauna observation included an Osprey hunting in the estuary (some fish were harmed during this experience). Its pretty awesome getting to hang out with people who think talking about fish, global warming, or new scientific discoveries is cool. I know, “#nerdstatus”, but we embrace it unabashedly.

All-in-all, I’m pretty stoked for this summer and the professional and personal opportunities and challenges it will present.

As a parting gift, here is the Newport sunset


You can also keep up with me on Twitter: @ronaldtardiff and with my fellow OSG scholars by searching for #OSGscholars on Twitter.