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Goal 16: Estuarine Resources

A creek meets the ocean under a bridgeAn estuary is the tidal mouth of a river, where the freshwater stream is met by the tide. Estuaries are home to unique plant and animal communities that have adapted to brackish water – a mixture of fresh water draining from the land and salty seawater. Estuaries are among the most productive ecosystems in the world. Many animals rely on estuaries for food, places to breed, and migration stopovers. Estuaries are delicate ecosystems that provide essential habitat for wildlife.

Statewide Planning Goal 16 provides the principal guidance for the planning and management of Oregon's estuaries. The overall objective of Goal 16 is to "to recognize and protect the unique environmental, economic and social values of each estuary and associated wetlands; and to protect, maintain, where appropriate develop, and where appropriate restore the long term environmental, economic and social values, diversity and benefits of Oregon’s estuaries". To accomplish this, the goal establishes detailed requirements for the preparation of plans and for the review of individual development projects and calls for coordinated management by local, state and federal agencies that regulate or have an interest in activities in Oregon's estuaries.

The goal requires individual estuary plans to designate appropriate uses for different areas within each estuary based on biological and physical characteristics and features, and to provide for review of proposed estuarine alterations to assure that they are consistent with overall management objectives and that adverse impacts are minimized.

Most Goal 16 requirements are implemented through locally adopted estuary plans, but some are applied by state agencies through their review of various permit applications.

Original Adoption: 12/18/76; Effective: 6/7/77
Amended: 10/11/84; Effective: 10/19/84

Read the full text version of Goal 16

Administrative Rules that implement Goal 16:

OAR 660-017 – Classifying Oregon Estuaries
OAR 660-031 – State Permit Compliance and Compatibility
OAR 660-035 – Federal Consistency


Estuary Planning
Coastal Goals


Meg Reed
Coastal Policy Specialist
Phone: 541-514-0091