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About South Slough Reserve

Boy touches water.South Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve is a protected estuary and natural area located on state-owned land in the Coos estuary on Oregon’s southern coast. It is managed in partnership by the Oregon Department of State Lands and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

The first of 30 National Estuarine Research Reserves around the nation, South Slough Reserve is a leader in improving understanding of estuaries and coastal watersheds. The Reserve manages and studies nearly 7,000 acres of natural area, including open water channels, tidal and freshwater wetlands, riparian areas, and forested lands. A portion of this area includes waterways, trails, and a visitor center that are open to the public.

Research and stewardship projects conducted by the Reserve contribute to cleaner, healthier surrounding coastal waters and inform coastal management practices throughout the world. Additionally, the Reserve provides educational programming for adults and students and training for coastal decision makers.

Land Acknowledgement

South Slough Reserve is located on the traditional lands of the Miluk Coos people who have managed these lands for abundance since time immemorial. We recognize the continued connection of the Confederated Tribes of the Coos, Lower Umpqua and Siuslaw Indians, Coquille Indian Tribe, and Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians to these lands and waters and the Tribes' ongoing stewardship of this important place

The National Estuarine Research Reserve System

The National Estuarine Research Reserve System is a network of Reserves across the United States that protect and study more than 1.3 million acres of estuarine systems. The NERRS was established in 1972 by the passage of the Coastal Zone Management Act. Each Reserve is managed by NOAA and a state partner for the purposes of long-term research, education, and coastal stewardship. 

Laws Rules and Permits

Learn about Oregon statutes and rules related to South Slough Reserve's operations.

Oregon state law requires anyone interested in using the Reserve for a project or commercial activity, like commercial guiding or filming, to submit a permit application. To determine if your activity requires a permit, please contact our operations manager, Rebecca Muse.

Planning and Management

Every five years the Reserve prepares a management plan that provides direction for programming and guides management decision making. The Reserve's priorities for the 2017-22 Management Plan include climate change, habitat protection, and invasive species. South Slough Reserve Management Commission is the immediate governing body of the Reserve with meetings that are held three times a year and are open to the public.

History of the Reserve

1971 - Coos County residents created a committee to protect the shoreline of South Slough.
1972 - The NERRS was established by Congress as a partnership between NOAA and the coastal states through Section 315 of the Coastal Zone Management Act.
1974 - South Slough Reserve was designated as the first unit of the NERRS.
1977 - The Department of State Lands assumed the primary role of state partner for the Reserve and the South Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve Management Commission was established.
1986 - The Visitor Center was constructed and open to the public.
1997 - Spruce Ranch was acquired to provide housing for visiting researchers and support a maintenance compound.
1999 - The Reserve's science lab was constructed at the Oregon Institute of Marine Biology in Charleston.
2002 - The Visitor Center was expanded to accommodate events.
2018 - The Reserve's science lab was expanded.
2020 - A rain garden hosting native plants was added to the Visitor Center with accompanying exhibit information.