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PROTECTING THE COOS BAY ESTUARY FROM FUTURE THREATS
Coos Bay is a highly developed yet ecologically vital estuary facing many potential threats in the decades to come. The time is now to plan for the future of the Coos Bay Estuary and protect it from further irresponsible development.
About the Bay
The Coos Bay Estuary has been dramatically altered since the mid 1800s to accommodate development and industry. Prior to modern estuary management policies, wetlands were drained and filled, tidal flow was dyked, rivers were diverted, and channels were dredged and deepened. Cumulatively, these modifications altered the hydrology, water quality, and ecosystem integrity of the bay. Right now is an opportunity to change course, and prioritize restoration and ecosystem resilience moving forward. The Coos Bay Estuary Management Plan (CBEMP) is being updated for the first time in over 40 years, and the public has the opportunity to help shape the outcome of the plan.
CBEMP is one of the first in the state to undergo an update. This update is necessary to modernize the plan and prepare the community for future challenges and new industries being proposed for the area, such as floating offshore wind.
Working for Change
The update process began in 2019 with an analysis of the environmental and socioeconomic conditions of the estuary and the convening of stakeholder focus groups to determine the best course of action. It was determined that the update should occur in multiple phases, starting with a basic update to correct scrivener’s errors and digitize maps (Phase 1), while a more comprehensive update will occur in Phase 2. Phase 1 has been completed in 2023, but is yet to be adopted.
The CBEMP update is a multi-jurisdictional process, including Coos County and the cities of North Bend and Coos Bay, which share management of the estuary. Part of the update includes aligning three separate versions of the plan into one document and determining a process for future co-management of the plan.
An Ongoing Process
Oregon Shores commented extensively at each step of the Phase 1 update process and advocated for key measures to strengthen the plan. The main thrust of our testimony was that Phase 1 was a valuable first step in modernizing the plan but should include a firm commitment to continuing with more comprehensive planning in Phase 2. We further recommended that the plan include the development of a Citizen Advisory Committee and Technical Advisory Committee to guide the Phase 2 process.
We have been working closely with Rogue Climate to advocate for greater transparency and public participation in the planning process and developed a Comment Guide to help the public understand the plan updates and provide meaningful input. We have also advocated that the plan recognize Tribal sovereignty and include a mechanism for Tribal consultation on future plan updates.
Each of the three local governments will hold public hearings on the draft Phase 1 plan and then adopt it in early 2024. Now is the time to speak up in support of estuary planning and demand that communities are meaningfully engaged in Phase 2.
So far, public hearings have occurred before the cities’ and county planning commissions. A joint work session was held with all three governments to address public comments before proceeding with adoption. A second work session will occur on Dec 7th to address the remaining concerns.
Watch the event listings on this website for information on the final round of hearings, and see our comment guide for information on these hearings, tips for testifying, and more.
Planning for the Future
We look forward to a more comprehensive, full revision of the plan in Phase 2, where issues like climate change, habitat loss, water quality, and endangered species must be addressed to protect the estuary’s invaluable natural resources and ecological integrity. We are working hard to ensure this plan update is community-led and includes thorough opportunities for public engagement. We hope you will join us in protecting the Coos Bay estuary if you want to get involved, contact us.