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  • Place-based Education at Pacific Creek and the Sunset Forest
    Sunset School students collect data on a salt marsh at Empire dock within walking distance of their school.
    Pacific Creek and Sunset Forest are made up places plain and simple.They are names made up to describe natural features lost in the urban/suburban landscape of Empire, Oregon where past development pushed a small creek into a subterranean system of pipes and trimmed a coastal forest into a neat triangle at the corner of a school campus.
    The “Pacific” of “Pacific Creek” comes from the name of the paved street that controls the surface above a flowing freshwater stream hidden in culverts, briars, and neglect.  “Sunset Forest” is nothing more than a patch of uncut fir, spruce, hemlock, and cedar surrounding a wetland in the far southwest corner of the school district’s property.  Together, they lead students and teachers on an interesting journey through time and down to the bay where the estuary awaits!
    Several years ago, South Slough educators approached teachers at Sunset School and Madison Elementary with ideas that would emphasize field experiences for students exploring sites within walking distance of their classrooms.  The reserve’s relationship with classes at these schools extends back over two decades, and classes from both schools have participated in field trips to South Slough. More recently, we have been working to build a connection to the nearby natural areas, the community, and the bay.  This is the essence of the term “place-based education” and it lies at the very heart of our comprehension of what each of us can do to better understand estuaries and our connection to them.
    In the coming months, South Slough will host an AmeriCorps volunteer to assist with a project focused on conducting after school programs for elementary and middle school students where participants will use hands-on science to discover how a small watershed, Pacific Creek, flows into the Coos estuary.  The program will expand Estuary Explorers to include activities during the week for specific grade levels, increase the frequency of Friday programs on alternate weeks, and include a monthly Saturday “family day” component.  This project also seeks to build a bridge between Estuary Explorer programs offered during the school year and science camps offered during the summer to extend and enhance learning beyond the academic environment. 
    As we work with our explorers to delve deeper into Pacific Creek, the Sunset Forest, and the estuary, we invite you to learn more about the exciting and beautiful place where we live, work, and play along the shores of Coos Bay!
  • SSNERR placed four new water quality monitoring stations online in October 2013

    The System-Wide Monitoring Program (SWMP) was implemented in the South Slough estuary in 1995 with the installation of two continuous water quality stations, one in each main arm of the estuary (Winchester Creek and Sengstacken Arm) in order to quantifiably measure changes in meteorological, water quality, biological systems, and land use / land-cover characteristics over time.  By 2001, these original stations were followed by two more water quality stations in the South Slough estuary and a meteorological station in Charleston.  The SWMP network has now been expanded to the greater Coos estuary to capture a more complete picture of water quality conditions in the entire system in order to help us understand both current conditions and the future effects of climate change. 

    Four new water quality monitoring stations went online in October 2013, measuring water temperature, specific conductivity, salinity, dissolved oxygen (percent and concentration), pH, turbidity,  and depth every 15 minutes. The new stations are located in the upper part of the Coos estuary, located on Isthmus Slough, Catching Slough, Coos River, and the upper bay near North Point.  The North Point station will eventually be outfitted with real-time telemetry and referenced to local benchmarks in order to provide real-time tidal data to bar pilots and recreational boaters. In addition the Confederated Tribes of Coos, Lower Umpqua, and Siuslaw Indians operate a station near Empire and one on the North Spit near the BLM boat Launch, while the Coquille Tribes has one station pending near the Mill Casino.  The Confederated Tribes’ North Spit station has real-time telemetry, allowing up-to-date, raw data to be accessible to the public (go here to view North Spit water quality data). 
    Together, the existing South Slough SWMP stations, the new Coos Bays stations, and the tribes’ stations provide a network of 12 continuous water quality monitoring stations in the Coos estuary.                            
  • Land Board Presents Annual Awards
    At their April 8 public meeting, the State Land Board recognized two projects for their responsible, sustainable stewardship of Oregon’s natural resources. The Sandy River Basin Habitat Restoration Project was honored with the 2013 Stream Project Award for their efforts to restore native fish habitat in the Sandy River near Welches. The Partnership for Coastal Watersheds received the 2013 Partnership Award for their collaborative work in the Coos Bay area.
South Slough Reserve Activities Oregon's Coastal Training Program

South Slough NERR encompasses a mixture of open water channels, tidal and freshwater wetlands, riparian areas, and forested uplands.  The Reserve supports and coordinates research, education, and stewardship programs which serve to enhance a scientific and public understanding of estuaries and contribute to improved estuarine management.  South Slough Reserve is part of the National Estuarine Research Reserve System (NERRS), a network of 28 reserves dedicated to research, education and stewardship.

Please call the Reserve at 541-888-5558 to register for these programs:
Film: Winged Migration

May 3, 2014
1 - 2:30 pm
Follow the migrations of a variety of birds across 7 continents.  We'll provide the BIG SCREEN and the popcorn!  (free)
Birds on the Estuary

May 3, 2014 from 8 - 10 am
May 10, 2014 from 2 - 4 pm
Explore the shores of Charleston in search of winged wildlife. An interpreter, binoculars and spotting scopes will be provided.

( $1/birder)

Celebrate International Migratory Bird Day
Introduction to Bird Watching

May 10, 2014
10 am

Binoculars, spotting scopes, and field guides will be available as experienced guides share the basic skills of bird watching at the Interpretive Center and on nearby trails.  (free)



Native Weaving Workshops

Learn to weave native baskets with Nan MacDonald.  To see the schedule of classes we offer, check out our Spring Calendar of events.
Shown is the Cedar & Spruce Root Clam Basket.

Estuary Explorers 

Explore your estuary!  Hands on fun and learning for children 6 - 12 years old.  Several classes encourage family participation.  To see the schedule of classes we offer, check out our Spring Calendar of events.

What's Happening

South Coast Striders Healthy Hikes

Hike Schedule for 2014




Oyster Feed

Sponsored by the Charleston Community Enhancement Corporation.

April 26, 2014

OIMB Dining Hall




















Fish Habitat Partnership to Begin Coast-wide Estuary Assessments

In January 2014 in Seattle, the Pacific Marine and Estuarine Fish Habitat Partnership (Partnership) will host a meeting of estuarine biologists, ecologists, and other researchers from Washington, Oregon and California to begin three assessments of fish habitat in West Coast estuaries.
South Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve is a member of the Partnership.
The work includes an assessment of rearing habitat for juvenile fish in estuaries; an assessment of conditions and key threats to the habitat of fish and shellfish stocks important to commercial and sport-fishing (as required by the National Fish Habitat Plan), and an assessment of changes in the habitat affecting the distribution and abundance of nine species of forage fish that inhabit estuaries and nearshore waters. Forage fish are important as food for larger predatory fish.
The assessments will help West Coast communities and natural resource managers better understand how habitat in estuaries helps in sustaining plentiful native fish and shellfish, including those most important to people and prioritize areas for conservation or restoration, the threats to that habitat, and prioritize efforts for restoration (and demonstrating thereby both the ecologic and economic benefits of conserving and restoring fish habitat).
Funding for the assessments is provided by the National Fish Habitat Action Plan. Much of the work will be done over the next several years by scientists working for NOAA and The Nature Conservancy.
Habitat Restoration a Coastal Training Priority at South Slough

South Slough Reserve is a national leader in techniques for restoring estuarine habitat, and habitat restoration is a priority of South Slough’s Coastal Training Program. We work with restoration scientists, watershed councils, universities and community colleges, Sea Grant, tribal nations, Oregon’s Ocean and Coastal Management Program, and other resource agencies to provide training, education and other information to address specific needs.

Canoe Raffle

Support the South Slough Reserve and you may Win a Canoe!

The Friends of South Slough Reserve are raffling off tickets for a 17 foot canoe with two paddles and two life vests.  There are 300 tickets available that are priced at $10 each and the drawing will be at the Coos Bay Wine Walk on May 2, 2014.  If you are interested in purchasing any raffle tickets, please call or visit the Reserve’s Interpretive Center.  You may also contact Deborah Rudd
(541) 888-5558 ext. 58 or any of the following FOSS board members: Lonne Mays, Valerie Cooley, Sue Cameron, Dave Lunde, Pat McKillip, Tom Younker.
You do not have to be present at the drawing to win and the canoe will be delivered to you if you live within a 30 mile radius of the Reserve.

Summer Science Camp

Mark Your Calendars!

South Slough Summer Science Camps 2014
Registration begins March 1st
June 24 to 27 Megalops  (grades 2-3)
June 30 to July 3 Instar (grades 4-5)
July 8 to 11  Zoea (grades k-1st)
July 22 -25 Megalops (grades 2-3)
July 29-August 1 ​Instar (grades 4-5)
August 5-8 Dungeness (grades 6 and above)

Summer Camps offer four days of activities with an estuary theme.