Phase 1 of the process for updating the Coos Bay Estuary Management Plan (CBEMP) has gone through an unexpectedly extended period of review and public comment. All three local governments that share governance of the estuar–Coos County, and the cities of Coos Bay and North Bend–are holding a special joint session on Dec. 7 in an attempt to reach final agreement on language for some key elements of the plan. This will be a public hearing, so citizens will have another opportunity to comment on this occasion. (See separate event listing for details.) Once these issues are settled–the three jurisdictions must adopt the same language–the CBEMP will receive a final review by each government at hearings early in 2024.

The respective city councils and county commissioners earlier held public hearings on the draft of the plan update, and had originally intended to hold a set of hearings in early November to consider adoption of the final version. However, during the earlier hearings, comments from Oregon Shores, Rogue Climate, and members of the public prompted a pause so that new suggestions could be considered. A special joint work session for all three jurisdictions took place on Nov. 9. The meeting was amicable and productive, and it appeared that agreement could be reached. The planners were tasked with revising the plan–the hope is that the Dec. 7 meeting will result in a version that all three governments are prepared to adopt.

The issues raised by Oregon Shores and others that led to the delay in adoption had to do with the roles of the Port of Coos Bay and the Tribes in the planning process, and the make-up of the citizen advisory committee and technical committee that will be part of Phase 2 of the plan update, when major questions such as climate resilience and restoration will be addressed. Aside from these needed improvements, we strongly support adoption of Phase 1, so long as there is a commitment to proceed with Phase 2 and deal with the larger challenges.

Many recommendations by Oregon Shores, Rogue Climate, and others were accepted during the course of the CBEMP Phase 1 process. Here are Oregon Shores’ comments to the city of Coos Bay laying out our concerns when the initial hearings were held. (Our comments to the other jurisdictions are essentially the same.)

Some background:

Coos County submitted the draft of the proposed plan updates to the Department of Land Conservation and Development (DLCD) as a first step in official consideration. The proposal at this point became a PAPA (Post-Acknowledgment Plan Amendment—“acknowledgment’ refers to the fact that the new EMP draft constitutes a set of changes to the county’s comprehensive plan, which is officially acknowledged by DLCD). The various elements of the proposed plan updates can be found on the county’s website. DLCD reviews the PAPA for appropriateness within the state’s land use planning laws, and then clears the way for approval by local jurisdictions.

Phase 1 consists of technical and format changes to the existing CBEMP, updated maps, and digitization. In short, it modernizes the plan, and makes a few limited policy changes. It does not address more fundamental questions, such as climate change resilience, habitat protection, water quality, endangered species, and restoration. These matters would all be part of Phase 2. Oregon Shores and other conservationists insisted that a clear commitment to launch the second phase be part of the first phase as adopted.

The Phase 1 PAPA must be approved by the local governments—Coos County, and the cities of Coos Bay and North Bend—which share the estuary and jointly manage through the CBEMP. The PAPA adoption process includes multiple local public hearings, first before the planning commissions, then before the county commissioners and city councilors, providing community members the opportunity to shape the plan by providing testimony. It is this process that was extended to the Dec. 7 meeting.

Go to our CBEMP comment guide for more information about the plan, our key concerns, and how to voice your opinion, including how to send comments to the city of Coos Bay. Changes to the EMP can still be made in response to public feedback at these meetings or in writing to

Information about the new timeline for public hearings and eventual adoption will appear here and in separate event listings when it is available. For more information, contact Annie Merrill, Oregon Shores’ land use coordinator,