Blue Water Task Force, Partnerships, Youth, Water Quality
June 03 2014

Port Orford BWTF: Engaging the community around the Red Rocks Marine Reserve

by Mara Dias

The Port Orford Blue Water Task Force is a collaborative effort between the Curry County Surfrider Chapter, the Redfish Rocks Community Team (RRCT) and the Port Orford/Langlois School District.   The RRCT is the community liaison for the Redfish Rocks Marine Reserve and Marine Protected Area, and its membership represents the City of Port Orford, commercial fishing, recreational fishing, port, local business, recreation, conservation, watershed council, and scientific interests.  The main goal of the Port Orford BWTF program is to expand upon other local monitoring efforts and to provide citizen-science opportunities in and around the Red Rocks Marine Reserve.

Community volunteers, students, teachers and staff from participating organizations collect water samples from popular recreational beaches and important ecological areas within the Port Orford Stewardship Area and bring their samples to Pacific High School where they are processed by students.   The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality only conducts their beach water testing program during the summer months, and the Chapter’s BWTF program augments that program by providing monthly water quality data from November through June.  Visit the BWTF website to see a map of where the Chapter is testing and to view their water quality data.

The Port Orford BWTF program reaches over 60 students during the school year. Students at both Driftwood Elementary and Pacific High School are trained in water quality collection and analysis and educated on the importance of water quality for ecological and recreational health.  Students are taken out of the classroom to explore the local sources of point and non-point pollution and how their work sampling can help track those sources over time.   Participation in the BWTF program provides both the students and community volunteers with experience in a hands-on science project with real world applications.  Visit the Port Orford BWTF Local Info page to learn more about this program and to download their inaugural Annual Report for the 2012/2013 school year.