|In Oregon, the beaches belong to the people. As part of Oregon's tradition of environmental stewardship, the Oregon Shores Conservation Coalition serves as the guardian of the public interest for our coastal region. Oregon Shores is dedicated to preserving the natural communities, ecosystems and landscapes of the Oregon coast while conserving the public's access. Oregon Shores pursues these ends through education, advocacy, and engaging citizens to keep watch over and defend the Oregon coast.|
| Tue Jun 4 4:39 PM Shoreline Science Workshops Planned for Summer 2013|
Stewart SchultzA special opportunity is avalable this summer for CoastWatchers, Oregon Shores members, and all others who love the coast and would like to learn more about its natural history: three intensive, three-day workshops on shoreline science, led by coastal ecologist Stewart Schultz.
The workshops are accredited for teachers, and will be held in Netarts (July 26-28), Newport (Aug. 8-10) and Coos Bay (Aug. 11-13). They will cover everything from tidepools and sandy beaches to estuarine and ocean ecosystems to marine mammals and birds. Each session will include field trips, indoor presentations, and laboratory experiences (with some variation, depending on the weather).
Each workshop will be open to the public, but their special purpose is to provide CoastWatchers with training in many aspects of coastal ecology relevant to monitoring the shoreline. Matters of concern such as marine debris and invasive species will also be discussed.
Stewart Schultz, author of The Northwest Coast: A Natural History, is an ideal guide to the shoreline environment. An Oregonian who grew up playing on the shoreline near Gearhart, he went to Reed College and obtained his doctorate in botany from the University of British Columbia. He worked on the Oregon coast for the Nature Conservancy, the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, gaining wide field experience before pursuing an academic career, first as a professor at the University of Miami and now the University of Zadar in Croatia. During the academic year he studies marine ecology as well as his specialty area, plant evolution and genetics, but every summer he returns to the Oregon coast to teach shoreline science on his home turf (home surf?)
In most years, he teaches at the Oregon Institute of Marine Biology, but this year he had room in his schedule for CoastWatch, and we seized the opportunity to provide our volunteers—and other interested people—a rich course in coastal natural history.
He will be joined by Fawn Custer, CoastWatch’s volunteer coordinator, herself an experienced marine educator who taught for 14 years at the Hatfield Marine Science Center. The three workshops will be held:
The workshop fee will be $50 for those who are both CoastWatchers and Oregon Shores members, $60 for those who are either CoastWatchers or Oregon Shores members, and $90 for non-members. Each workshop will begin at 8:30 a.m. on the first day, and at 7 a.m. on the final two days, and will run until approximately 4:30.
- July 26-28, Netarts-Oceanside Fire District Meeting Hall
- Aug. 8-10, Newport High School
- Aug. 11-13, Marshfield High School, Coos Bay
We are now accepting reservations. Online registration is not yet ready, but if you contact us we will hold a place for you. You may pay now by check (send to Oregon Shores, P.O. Box 33, Seal Rock, OR 97376) or wait until online registration is open to pay via credit card.
For more information, or to reserve a place in one of the workshops, contact Fawn Custer, (541) 270-0027, firstname.lastname@example.org; or Phillip Johnson, (503) 754-9303, email@example.com.
| Jun 10 NEW Clean Water Act Lawsuit Filed to Protect Coalbank Slough|
Affected landowner Mike Martin stands atop the debris slide. Photo by David Petrie. Oregon Shores has joined with Coos Waterkeeper in filing a civil lawsuit in federal court to enforce the Clean Water Act for the protection of Coalbank Slough and the Coos Bay estuary. The lawsuit filed on our behalf by the Crag Law Center, our partners in the Coastal Law Project, arises from a failed grading and fill project that has dumped about 1,500 cubic yards of spoils into an important habitat area, and has left as much as 23,000 cubic yards of potentially unstable material at risk of also surging into the slough.
We had earlier sent the responsible parties a letter notifying them of intent to sue if the issue were not resolved. Our hope had been to spur Johnson Rock Products to cooperate with the state’s Department of Environmental Quality and agree to clean up the waterway. No acceptable settlement appeared to be forthcoming, however, so we have now taken the big step of going to court.
The slough, an offshoot of the Coos Bay estuary, provides habitat for fish and aquatic organisms, including salmonid fish species that are listed on the federal Endangered Species List. Coalbank Slough is also designated as a critical habitat for threatened Oregon Coast coho salmon and the Southern Distinct Population Segment of North American green sturgeon. Protecting estuarine habitat is one of Oregon Shores’ key goals—this was not a situation we could allow to go unaddressed.
Last spring, Johnson Rock Products dumped nearly 25,000 cubic yards of soil and other construction and excavation debris from the Bay Area Hospital expansion project on a sloped property near the slough. In early April, the soil and debris collapsed down the hill, creating a landslide across landowner Mike Martin’s property and into the slough. The volume of material in the slough is sufficient to change the tidal flows, and the remaining material on the slope remains unstable, creating a substantial risk that further landslides will occur.
Martin is a member of Coos Waterkeeper, the local arm of the national Waterkeeper Alliance, and sought the organization’s help. Coos Waterkeeper’s mission is to support projects that protect and restore water quality and fish populations in the Coos Bay basin through enforcement, field work and community action. Coos Waterkeeper in turn reached out to Oregon Shores. Assisting local activists in protecting resources by employing land use and water quality laws is an important role of our Land Use Program, and we committed to providing the necessary legal resources to pursue the case.
We filed the suit after Johnson Rock Products appeared to have resisted enforcement attempts by the Department of Environmental Quality. “We have been very supportive of DEQ’s enforcement efforts, but too much time has passed and nothing has been done to clean up the debris or rehabilitate the slough,” says David Petrie, Coos Waterkeeper. “It’s time to hold those responsible for this pollution accountable for their actions.” The lawsuit names Johnson Rock Products and the property owners who allowed the debris to be dumped on their land as defendants.
Under the Clean Water Act, individual citizens or groups may bring an action against an alleged violator. The citizen suit provision of the Clean Water Act serves to supplement both state and federal government enforcement actions so that all citizens can protect the waters they care about and depend upon. The federal Clean Water Act and Oregon law both prohibit placing material like soil and excavation debris in waters such as Coalbank Slough without a permit.
“Estuaries and their associated sloughs and wetlands are vital coastal ecosystems,” says Phillip Johnson, Oregon Shores’ executive director. “This kind of damage to the estuary, if allowed to continue unabated, harms both the natural and human communities. We’re delighted to work with Coos Waterkeeper to get this situation cleaned up.”
Contact: Phillip Johnson, Executive Director, (503) 754-9303, or EMAIL