Coos Bay Estuary Plan Work Sessions

January 4, 2023 - 5:00 PM
Coos Bay City Council Chambers
500 Central Ave.
Coos Bay, OR
City of Coos Bay, City of North Bend, Coos County Board of Commissioners

Coos Bay Boardwalk.
Coos Bay Boardwalk.\Photo by Alexa Carlton.

The process for updating the Coos Bay Estuary Management Plan (CBEMP) has suddenly lurched into high gear. Coos County, and the cities of Coos Bay and North Bend, recently announced a streamlined effort to bring the decades-old existing plan up to date.

Two work sessions—the public’s first opportunity to learn what is taking place—will be held on Wednesday, Jan. 4 in the Coos Bay City Council Chambers (500 Central Avenue, Coos Bay). The planning commissioners from the three jurisdictions will meet to receive a briefing on the plan update at 5:00 p.m. The City of Coos Bay and North Bend city councilors and the Coos County Board of Commissioners will meet at 6:30 p.m. Members of the public won't have the opportunity to speak at these sessions, but at the least those attending will have a chance to prepare themselves for the public open house to be held on Saturday, Jan. 7 (see separate listing).

According to the public statement offered by the three local jurisdictions, “The Partnership for Coastal Watersheds (PCW) which includes Coos County Staff, City of Coos Bay Staff, City of North Bend Staff and Port of Coos Bay Staff, has gone through an extensive process to evaluate the needs of the local governments and the community for the Coos Bay Estuary Management Plan. Their past work included public meetings and an open house to share results from all of the data products that were created. The process was patterned from the original CBEMP workgroup setup in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s. This effort has resulted in the development of an integrated assessment which was conducted with the assistance of the PCW steering committee, stakeholders representing, economic, socio-cultural, and natural resource protection interests, and public feedback from a previously held open house. This effort started in 2015 and was presented by the Consultants, University of Oregon, Institute for Policy Research and Engagement to the Coos Bay, North Bend and County Planning Commissioners and City Councilors and County Board of Commissioners in 2019. The plan was to move the products from the effort into formal hearings and adoptions to have a unified plan. COVID stalled the process and after a re-evaluation and additional funding the County and City Staff would like to move this project forward. The findings and products will be presented to Councilors, Planning Commissioners and Board of Commissioners in an informational work session setting.

All this may be true, but it also indicates that the work was done four years ago, and thus doesn’t take into account rapidly evolving knowledge of climate change and estuarine habitats, such as eelgrass beds. Citizens who participated four years ago would need time to get back up to speed. And the work was done before there were proposals afoot for development of a container port and offshore wind facilities that could impact the estuary.

To ask questions about the work sessions, or the CBEMP process, contact Coos County Community Development at (541) 396-7770, or [email protected].

To find documents related to the CBEMP, go here.