Yaquina Bay estuary's King Slough.

Yaquina Bay estuary’s King Slough.Photo by Rena Olson.

The process of updating the Yaquina Bay Estuary Management Plan (YBEMP) has now passed the public comment stage; the comment period ended July 14. We now await the final draft of the plan update that will be submitted to local governments for adoption. The final draft from the consulting planners, Willamette Partnership, is due by Aug. 31. Hearings will be held by Lincoln County and the cities of Newport and Toledo after that, giving members of the public another opportunitiy to comment and seek to shape the ultimate plan.

The new draft elements of the YBEMP have been released to the public, and are available here.

The map viewer, providing access to the maps that underlie that plan, in now online as well.

Our YBEMP comment guide, designed to help both Lincoln County residents and other interested Oregonians write impactful comments on the plan content, can be obtained here. It remains a good resource for understanding the plan and what Oregon Shores is advocating for, in terms of what is missing from the update thus far. This is Tier 1 of a three “tier” process to fully update the estuary management plan to prepare for the challenges of coming decades. Oregon Shores, along with other conservation groups, argues that much of the critical work remains to be done, meaning the once these initial elements of the plan are updated, the planning effort should move directly to “Tier 2.”

Oregon Shores partnered with Lincoln City Audubon to host a webinar on June 28 providing background on the EMP, ecological information about Yaquina Bay, and assistance in making comments. Featured presenters were Laura Brophy, a wetland ecologist who has studied Yaquina Bay extensively and describe the estuary’s wetlands; planner Ethan Brown of Willamette Partnership; and Annie Merrill, Oregon Shores’ land use coordinator, discussing ways to get involved and providing information on how to contribute effectively to the planning process. A recording of this session can be found on Oregon Shores’ YouTube channel.

A total of three local “town halls” were held in July. Members of the community attended to learn more about the proposed plan updates and provide verbal and written feedback. See separate event listings for details.

The YBEMP update is much-needed; the current plan is some four decades old. Some of the provisions in “Tier 1” are definite improvements, but Oregon Shores has been critical of many elements. In particular, we are concerned at the lack of firm commitment to continue the process with “Tier 2,” addressing fundamental questions of climate change resilience, habitat protection, and restoration. See our most recent comments to Willamette Partnership.

For more information, contact Annie Merrill at annie@oregonshores.org, or Phillip Johnson, Oregon Shores’ conservation director, phillip@oregonshores.org, (503) 754-9303.

Read more about the EMP process here.