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COOS BAY — A public open house will be held by the Partnership for Coastal Watersheds on April 25 at The Mill Casino-Hotel to update the Coos Bay Estuary Management Plan.

Two open houses will take place that day on the second floor meeting room of The Mill Casino-Hotel. The first will be from 3-5 p.m. and the second will be from 5:30-7:30 p.m.

The Coos Bay Estuary Management plan is the regulatory basis for local development and conservation decisions made in and around the Coos Estuary. Since the plan was adopted in 1985 there have been few changes, and the language has become outdated and made it difficult to work around.

“So much has changed along the estuary since then. At that time there was still a lot of forestry and fisheries going on. Since the 1980s that’s just gone down and isn't the significant part of the local economy it used to be,” Coos Bay Community Development Administrator Tom Dixon said.

Many conditions including the economics and demographics of the communities along the Coos Estuary have changed and the Coos Bay Estuary Management Plan is now largely outdated because of it.

“This event offers a great opportunity for anyone interested in current and future management of the Coos Estuary to learn more about the Coos Bay Estuary Management Plan,” Coos County Planning Director Jill Rolfe said.

To determine exactly what updates need to be made, the PCW has been working with the Coos County Planning Department. Now they are looking for public input on how to amend the plan to better fit the needs of the community.

“We have a lot better mapping now than we did 30 years ago. We have a much better understanding of tidal influences, and wetlands. How wildlife habitats are impacted,” Dixon said.

The PCW is a local group of community members who have banded together to help try and determine the best use for local lands with both development and nature in mind. In 2016 the PCW received a $246,000 grant from the National Estuarine Research Reserve System Science Collaborative to help Coos County develop the technical information and community feedback it needs as it considers updating the Coos Bay Estuary Management Plan.

“It’s just time for us to kind of relook at the plan. It’s not just a means for conservation and natural protection, but it’s also a way to identify areas for economic development,” Dixon said.

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