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August 19, 2013

Protecting “Protected” Areas

What does it mean to designate an area as “protected”? What are our natural resource agency roles in protecting these special designated areas and what are the roles of citizens, volunteers or local groups and organizations? On the Oregon coast, we have a variety of special places that are of high interest to recreational users and the roles we all play in helping preserve these special places is diverse and more important than you may think. Here’s one story from our Newport Chapter of a volunteer taking on a serious citizen role in protecting one of Oregon’s most treasured marine protected areas.

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When a marine protected area or reserve is designated, there are many facets in a long process from community and stakeholder input to agency rule-making and management plan development that help shape the research, enforcement, education and overall protection of these areas. The ongoing role of citizens and stakeholders is integral for these areas to truly maintain and manage protective measures and this story really highlights such an example.

In 1980, Congress designated Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area in order to preserve its important ecological, cultural, and recreational uses. Managed by the Bureau of Land Management, several other agencies also cooperate in the protection of this area from Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife management of plants and animals in the intertidal to the US Fish and Wildlife’s management of the adjacent Oregon Islands National Wildlife Refuge. But when nearly 7 tons of crab gear washed ashore in this special protected area, it was the citizens who got to action to protect this area. Give it 5 minutes, here’s their story:

With Oregon newly designated marine reserves and protected areas now entering a process to develop management plans for monitoring/research, enforcement and education, now’s a great time to get more involved in helping shape these areas for lasting protection.

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