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PROTECTING YAQUINA BAY’S VITAL NATURAL RESOURCES
Home to the state’s largest commercial fishing fleet and the Pacific Northwest's leading marine science outpost (Hatfield Marine Science Center), the Yaquina Bay estuary has a fundamental place in the environment of the central Oregon coast. Planning for the future of Yaquina Bay is essential to sustain Oregon’s coastal economy, dependent on the area's rich natural resources and estuarine ecosystem.
Planning is Happening Now
Yaquina Bay is a vibrant estuary, full of life. From Chinook Salmon to Orcas to sunflower sea stars, the estuary supports biodiversity and serves an important role in the life history of many vital and threatened species. Now is the time to help prepare this estuary, and the surrounding community, for the impacts of climate change and enhance the health of the bay and watershed. The Yaquina Bay Estuary Management plan (YBEMP) is currently being updated, and community support is needed to ensure the plan is robust.
The ongoing update of the Yaquina Bay Estuary Management Plan (YBEMP) is of double significance. Not only will it inform management of one of the state’s most economically and ecologically important estuaries, but the process is being used as the test case for the development of a statewide “guidance document” that the Department of Land Conservation and Development’s Coastal Management Program will use to assist updates for all of the state’s estuaries.
About the Plan Updates
Drafting of the Yaquina Bay EMP update wrapped up in the late summer of 2023 after years of planning. This was followed by a public comment period. We are now looking towards the local adoption process in 2024 before it is complete. Lincoln County will hold public hearings, and the cities of Newport and Toledo will hold public hearings, giving members of the public opportunities to comment and shape the ultimate adopted plan.
- The draft plan is now available on the planning website. You can also view proposed maps and a data viewer to see how Yaquina’s natural resources are reflected in management units.
- Town halls were held in July. Community members attended to learn more about the proposed plan updates and provide verbal and written feedback. Responses to these public comments are found here.
Oregon Shores played a role on the Advisory Group for the planning team and provided comments on draft elements of the plan. Throughout the planning process, we advocated for increased public participation. We disseminated information about technical elements of the plan and created a Comment Guide to help the public provide meaningful input on the draft plan.
We also co-hosted a webinar with Lincoln City Audubon on June 28, 2023, providing background on the EMP, ecological information about Yaquina Bay, and guidance for public comment. To learn more about proposed updates, a recording of this session can be found on Oregon Shores’ YouTube channel.
Oregon Shores also has a seat on the steering committee for the Estuary Resilience Action Planning effort for Lincoln county, led by the Department of Land Conservation and Development. Stay tuned for upcoming opportunities for public engagement in this process in 2024.
A New Era of Responsible Use
The YBEMP update is greatly needed and we support many of the changes made.When adopted, this will be the first Estuary Management Plan in Oregon to integrate language about climate change and develop a Climate Vulnerabilities Impact Assessment to inform planners and the public on how climate hazards will impact new projects. The plan is now more user-friendly, and includes digitized maps. It also increased protection of recently restored wetlands and native oyster populations in specific management units.
However, we believe further planning is needed to adequately protect Yaquina Bay and prepare communities and key habitats for the impacts of climate change. Now that this pilot update has been completed, we will advocate for much more comprehensive, long-range planning to address climate change resilience, habitat protection, endangered species, water quality, and restoration in the years to come.
We need your help to make this happen; if you want to get involved, contact us.