Rocky Shoreline Regions: Every year, a large number of visitors and residents alike flock to Oregon’s beaches, drawn by the silky sand and seemingly endless views. The rugged crags and outcroppings that make up more than 40% of the state’s 363 miles of Pacific Ocean beachfront, on the other hand, are much less accessible.
The state is now contemplating declaring six additional Marine Conservation Areas, all of which are distinguished by their rocky nature, as a result of years of planning and volunteer work.
According to Andy Lanier, marine relations coordinator for the Oregon Department of Land Conservation and Development, this is a very good news story for the Oregon coast. It’s an opportunity to recognize an extremely valuable resource. The Audubon Society of Lincoln City proposed two locations: Cape Foulweather, south of Depoe Bay, and Cape Lookout, north of Pacific City.
The Land Conservation and Development Commission could approve them as soon as April. The other four conservation areas are located north of Port Orford at Chapman Point, Ecola Point, Fogarty Creek near Depoe Bay, and Blacklock Point. If they are approved, they will be added to a list of rocky shorelines in the state’s rocky habitat management plan.
For example, they would join the Otter Rock marine garden, which is located north of Newport and is already on the state’s list. There are no proposed changes to the current rules governing fishing or shellfish harvesting. According to Kent Doughty, coastal conservation coordinator for the Audubon Society of Lincoln City, the entire project “focuses on stewardship rather than regulation as a way to conserve and manage natural resources at the locations.”
It’s a fantastic opportunity for residents and coastal communities to get involved and shape the future of these places. According to him, thousands of seabirds are breeding at the Cape Foulweather location, a 1.9-mile stretch of rocky beach. The vast underwater kelp forests that develop on the reefs greatly aid local fisheries. Visitors who stand on the cape above frequently see feeding whales.
The Cape Lookout designation, on the other hand, encompasses three miles of coastline and near-shore seas. It has tidal pools, kelp forests, near-shore reefs, a sea cave, and areas where marine animals congregate, as well as providing a habitat for seabird flocks.
In an effort to convince local fishing interests that the new conservation zones won’t interfere with their current fishing rights, Doughty said he and other Audubon Society members routinely speak with local fishing interests.
As part of the public comments collected prior to the introduction of the six proposed new regions, the Pacific City Dorymen’s Association expressed concern that future changes to the regulatory parameters might introduce changes to the procedure. According to Lanier of the state, the planned site arrangement was more of a concern than the actual site itself. “Their concern is that if a region advances now, what will prevent it from changing in the future?”
According to Lanier, any suggested changes would have to go through the very rigorous process that has led up to this point as the state seeks to constantly examine how the sites are maintained in the future. Any proposed changes would be subject to a lengthy public process, he added.
It would probably take a full year for several state agencies to conclude the rule-making process necessary to put the final touches on real management plans, if, as anticipated, the six planned locations are approved for the following stages. Lanier, who has spent the previous four years assisting in the direction of the Marine Conservation Area project, is one of many who anticipates that to occur.
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