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The Stewardship Program at South Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve (South Slough NERR) is dedicated to the Reserve’s function as a protected area to be used as a focal point for coastal ecosystem research and education. The program operates with input from a variety of partners to maintain the ecological integrity of the Reserve and its associated watershed and to generate science-based natural resource management information that is relevant to the communities and partners served by the Reserve. The intent is to foster better informed management of Pacific Northwest estuaries and coastal watersheds. To date, the Stewardship Program has been primarily focused on habitat restoration and acquisition planning. The program will grow over the next planning period into a more broadly focused, integrated and innovative example of coastal Pacific Northwest watershed stewardship.
Stewardship Goals
South Slough Estuary
The goals for the South Slough NERR Stewardship Program are to:

Manage and restore the habitats and ecosystem processes associated with the South Slough NERR using an adaptive management approach.

Provide for a diversity of high quality estuarine and coastal habitats representative of the Lower Columbia biogeographic region.
Collaborate with local, regional, and national agencies and organizations to address natural resource management issues affecting estuaries and coastal watersheds.
Restoration and Monitoring


Port Orford cedar

The Port Orford cedar, otherwise known as Chamaecyparis Lawsoniana, has a very limited natural habitat near the Pacific Coast, ranging from about 40° 50’ to 43° 35’ N. latitude in southwestern Oregon and northwestern California.  The trees can live more than 600 years and can often reach a height between 125 to 200 feet tall with 3-6 ft diameter trunks. Shade tolerance is a very important aspect of this tree as it can prosper under a shaded canopy more successfully than nearly every other conifer (cone-bearing seed plants).  The leaves of Port Orford cedars are scaly and blue-green with clearly identifiable white “X’s” on the underside.


Primary habitat for the trees is restricted to moist locations such as benches, drainages, and other areas with constant seepage of water. Its presence is an important aspect in uplifted marine terraces as well as the coastal ranges of southern Coos County and northern Curry County habitats. The Port Orford cedar also plays a crucial role in local habitats as its long lasting wood provides persistent structure to the moist lands for fish, amphibians, and other aquatic organisms.
Phytophthora lateralis: The Disease

The Port Orford cedar is very susceptible to an exotic root-rot disease caused by a microscopic water born pathogen, Phytophthora lateralis (PL). The name Phytophthora literally means “plant destroyer” and is the genus of numerous plant pathogen species.  The origin of PL is undetermined, but the complete susceptibility of the Port Orford cedar to the disease suggests that the pathogen evolved outside the native cedar range.  Small rootlets that are infected with PL first appear to be water-soaked and then quickly proceed to darken. As the disease starts to take over the tree, the cambium (nutrient-rich layer) of larger roots discolor to a deep cinnamon brown; the inner bark remains a healthy cream color.   As the disease advances, the foliage becomes a bronze color and then through time the greater part of the cedar turns to a light brown.  The disease can then decimate all aspects of the tree within one year.


Port Orford cedar Genetic Resistance Project

Port Orford cedar has made quite an impact on the local habitat of South Slough and surrounding areas.  Shown below is a segment of forest containing mainly Port Orford cedar that has been affected by Phytophthora lateralis and is at various stages of dying. Since Port Orford cedar has been plagued by Phytophthora lateralis, it has been dying off and forming these snags that you find all along the 10-minute trail.  Though they are of importance to the habitat in small quantities, there are too many dead trees in the forests due to the pathogen killing the POC.


South Slough NERR has teamed up with Dorena Genetic Resource Center in an attempt to identify and create genetically resistant trees.



  Port Orford Cedar Genetic Resistance Project.pub


Richard A Sniezko, a geneticist from the USDA Forest Service, recently gave a talk at Forest Research’s Northern Research Station, Roslin, on resistance breeding programs for forest trees.

POC_Habitat Range.png

Port Orford cedar range



 Learn more about the Reserve’s  habitat restoration projects


























































































































Learn more about the Reserve’s stewardship program and partnerships

Partnership for Coastal Watersheds