North Coast Rocky Habitat Coalition held a virtual meeting Wednesday, Nov. 18, to discuss proposals for rocky habitat protections at Ecola Point and Chapman Point as part of the Rocky Habitat Management Strategy. The conversation will continue at 6 p.m. Dec. 3.
Coordinator Margaret Treadwell said the rocky shores of Oregon are what make the Oregon Coast so beautiful. They are also a place of solace and solitude.
“They’re also places where we can learn about ocean creatures,” Treadwell said.
The Rocky Habitat Management Strategy is an update of the 1994 Rocky Shores Management Plan. It provides a framework for multi-agency management of rocky shores. This update includes new information and data.
The Oregon Ocean Policy Advisory Council charged Rocky Habitat Working Group in January 2018 with making recommendations, Treadwell said in her presentation.
Special designation sites
There are special designation categories for proposers to consider. The first is a Marine Conservation Area. The goal of this is to conserve the natural system to the highest degree possible by limiting adverse impacts to habitat and wildlife. This can be customized to the proposer’s concerns.
Treadwell said the working group has encouraged creativity. Some of the possible exemptions to the rules would be requiring permits and licenses and setting harvest/take limits.
“You could set a limit of how much of a particular species could be taken from a particular area,” Treadwell said.
This could include limits on the number of trips a vessel could take, Treadwell added.
“Fisheries can receive seasonal closures to allow important life processes to occur, like spawning or to allow species to grow to maturity,” Treadwell said. “An example might be if you had a seasonal closure for nesting birds. It would allow this whole process to happen, allow the beach chicks to get to fledging age, and then the area would be back open.”
Another site designation category is the Marine Garden or Marine Education Area. An example of this is Haystack Rock in Cannon Beach. The goal of this designation is to protect rocky habitat resources to support public enjoyment, learning opportunities and maintain ecological integrity.
The other site designation category is a Marine Research Area. The goal of this is to maintain the natural system.
One of the proposal sites is Chapman Point and Bird Rocks. Treadwell said the work group is thinking of a Marine Education Center or Marine Conservation Area for the site.
“At Chapman Point and Bird Rocks, we have Black Oystercatcher nesting sites,” Treadwell said, listing other birds, such as cormorants and Pelicans, which are also at the site.
Treadwell said she saw high impacts to nesting birds at Chapman Point this year. There was a high rate of nesting failure this year of Black Oystercatchers. Only one area was successful.
People not aware of the birds are disturbing the birds and causing nest failure, Treadwell added. For a Marine Education Area, they can set up a small scope for viewing the birds from afar. This education point could include educating visitors before they get to the site.
Another thing that disturbs seabirds are fireworks. Fireworks are not supposed to happen on the beach and have been banned within the city of Cannon Beach. Fines are increased and there is signage now.
“It was only a month ago that we got them totally banned,” Deb Atiyeh, a citizen of Cannon Beach who fought for the ban. “They can’t even have sparklers inside of Cannon Beach anymore.”
Citizen Nadia Gardner said Cannon Beach is the only city on the Oregon Coast that has prohibited fireworks, but they are technically prohibited on all coastal beaches. They easily disturb birds such as Black Oystercatchers.
The other proposal site is Ecola Point and Sea Lion Rocks. This is a rich intertidal ecosystem. There are breeding colonies of seabirds. Some colonies have disappeared from the site.
There has been increased visitation and issues with drones. Treadwell said for this site, they were thinking a Marine Conservation Area would be a good designation with some exceptions for fishing.
The proposals for the rocky habitat protections are due to the Oregon Ocean Policy Advisory Council by Dec. 31. Information required in the proposals includes site access information, key natural resources, regulations and enforcement, etc.
The Rocky Habitat Working Group will consider the proposals in February. The next open proposal period begins Oct. 1, 2021. It will be a rolling open submission. Every year, there will be an opportunity to propose additional sites or amend current proposals.
For more information, tune in to the Zoom meeting at 6 p.m. Dec. 3 at https://us02web.zoom.us/j/87947796197?pwd=NGhhUWo3U0cyenBSVHlaKys3aVp3Zz09
Meeting ID: 879 4779 6197