The Stewardship Program at South Slough NERR is focused on maintaining the ecological integrity of the Reserve and promoting responsible management of coastal ecosystems. Building on a history of habitat restoration, restoration monitoring, and acquisition planning, the Reserve will pursue broader and more integrative methods for watershed stewardship during this planning period.
Components of the Framework for Watershed Stewardship
Define existing ecological conditions and levels of development and human activity in the South Slough watershed.
Articulate a vision for the South Slough watershed; define desired ecological conditions and level of development and human activity in the South Slough watershed.
Identify measurable environmental indicators that collectively describe the ecological integrity of the Reserve and South Slough watershed and establish protocols for monitoring them.
Monitor environmental indicators and produce an annual assessment of the health of the South Slough watershed.
Periodically review environmental indicators to ensure they effectively characterize the ecological integrity of the watershed.
Review the efficacy of management actions to maintain the Reserve and the South Slough watershed consistent with the collective watershed vision.
Implement watershed management plans (for acquisition, restoration, invasive species, emergency response) to address existing or developing resource management issues within the South Slough watershed.
When possible, design watershed management actions to specifically address research questions using the [Inquiry-Based Information Services (IBIS)] model.
Land use and Resource Management Plans
As part of the Coos estuary and watershed, land uses within the Reserve are subject to the provisions of the Coos County Comprehensive Plan (1984) and its accompanying document, the Coos Bay Estuary Management Plan (1983). These comprehensive land use plans were developed under the guidance of the Oregon Coastal Management Program, which is administered by the Department of Land Conservation and Development with funding from the federal government under the Coastal Zone Management Act of 1972.
South Slough NERR is also dependent on regional planning efforts for the spill response plan for the South Slough and the Coos estuary. The Coos Bay Geographic Response Plan was developed by the Coos estuary subcommittee of the Oregon Coast Oil Spill and Marine Safety Committee in 1994 and updated in 1996, 1997, 1999 and 2000. The plan outlines actions to be taken in the event of a spill. It includes mapped locations and descriptions of susceptible habitats, equipment caches, and oil collection boom sites. The plan identifies booms stored in Charleston near the mouth of South Slough to be deployed in a sequence that intercepts oil before it enters South Slough on a flooding tide.
South Slough NERR Cooperative Plan for Watershed Conservation
Habitat Restoration Plan
Invasive Species Control Plan
Watershed Stewards Program
The Stewardship Program will work with the Reserve staff to develop and implement a Watershed Stewards Program. The program will provide residents of the South Slough watershed with a variety of ways to become involved in stewardship, such as volunteering to work on stewardship projects or opportunities to learn about to specific watershed management issues. This program could be modeled after or implemented in partnership with Oregon State University Extension Service’s Watershed Stewardship Education Program and has the potential to be an integral part of the Reserve’s volunteer program.
Inquiry-Based Information Services
An integrated information gathering and sharing process, Inquiry-Based Information Services (IBIS), provides the Reserve with a new approach for applying staff, programs, and resources directly to natural resource management questions and information gaps articulated by the coastal decision-maker audiences. The IBIS builds on data collection and dissemination processes already used by Reserve staff by integrating Coastal Training Program outreach elements. A needs assessment will be used at the beginning of the process to ensure relevance and usefulness of the information being collected. Using decision-maker workshops and other outreach tools at the end of the process ensures efficiency and effectiveness of information sharing.
The Coastal Training Program is under development at the South Slough NERR. Needs assessments conducted by the CTP are designed to identify information gaps from various coastal decision-maker audiences on specific issues associated with the stewardship of coastal watersheds. Depending on the audience and the questions asked, Reserve staff will form an integrated team (including external partners as appropriate) to develop demonstration projects. The demonstrations projects will be designed to provide science-based information that can be used to answer specific natural resource management questions.
South Slough NERR has incorporated IBIS into the Reserve’s CTP strategy and has commenced testing the development of demonstration projects. Since each project will likely be different, depending on the audiences and questions articulated, a flexible approach is necessary. The IBIS process will team coastal decision-makers together with the Reserve’s programmatic resources as well as with the technical expertise of Reserve partners in a process that will result in the discovery and development of objective, science-based information directly relevant to the needs of coastal communities. As currently envisioned, the IBIS process consists of several steps:
Issues relevant to specific coastal decision-maker audiences are identified via a CTP needs assessment
Issues are refined to those questions appropriate for Reserve staff and/or partners to address.
When possible, Reserve staff and/or partners use existing literature to address questions and make information available to the coastal decision-maker audience(s) and the public.
Demonstration project is developed for questions that cannot be addressed by existing literature and require new data collection and analysis.
Funding plan/grant application(s) are developed.
Demonstration project is implemented.
Data is collected and analyzed.
Information from demonstration project is disseminated through a variety of formal and informal means to coastal decision maker-audience(s) and the public.