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Report: Southern OR Coastal Reserve Has Big Local Impact

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Tuesday, June 29, 2021   

COOS BAY, Ore. -- A system of little-known public lands protecting sensitive coastal habitats generates big economic impacts for local communities, according to a new study, which looked at four sites of the National Estuarine Research Reserve System.

The reserves are open to the public and provide a platform for research.

The South Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve near Coos Bay, which was the first reserve in the system, generates more than $6 million in revenue a year.

Pete Wiley, an economist for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, explains how.

"Each research reserve spends money on its operations and maintenance," Wiley pointed out. "Each reserve has visitors that come for the educational programming or recreational opportunities, and those visitors spend money in the local community."

The South Slough supports 65 jobs and brings in close to 10,000 visitors each year. The study was commissioned by NOAA and The Pew Charitable Trusts.

The Oregon reserve and three Florida reserves in the study are estimated to generate more than $165 million in annual revenue for their communities, including more than $55 million in wages for more than 1,700 jobs.

Bree Yednock, manager of the South Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve, said the economics are valuable, but noted the benefits of the region go beyond what's shown in this study.

"South Slough Reserve, we know from our water quality monitoring program, results in clean water, and that in turn supports a thriving oyster aquaculture industry," Yednock outlined. "We know that the projects that we do on the reserve to restore habitat creates important habitat for commercially and recreationally important species. For us, that's salmon and that's Dungeness crab."

Yednock added scientists at the reserve also study the effects of climate change and conduct sustainability research. The national system protects 29 ecologically sensitive areas in 23 states and Puerto Rico. At least three other states could join the system with their own reserves soon.

Support for this reporting was provided by The Pew Charitable Trusts.


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