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Oregon's Territorial Sea Plan Approved

After almost five years of active participation, the Surfrider Foundation and our Oregon chapters applaud the approval of a territorial sea plan that protects our special recreational and ecological places, including Oregon’s key surf spots, while creating opportunities for renewable ocean energy development.

Following years of data collection, stakeholder engagement, and public process, the State of Oregon recently adopted an amended Territorial Sea Plan, which accommodates for the new use of renewable energy development within Oregon’s nearshore waters.

Oregon Surfrider members and staff have played a very active role in this effort over the years by participating in the Reedsport Settlement Agreement, developing Surfrider’s Policy on Renewable Ocean Energy, mapping surfing and other recreational activities through the Oregon Non-Consumptive Recreational Ocean Use Study, representing ocean recreational users on the Territorial Sea Plan Advisory Committee (TSPAC), and providing many public comments to the Ocean Policy Advisory Council (OPAC).

Department of Land Conservation and Development staff provided recommendations for adoption to the Land Conservation and Development Commission (final decision making body) that were based on input from TSPAC, OPAC, and the public. The Commission then adopted the recommendations by a vote of 5-1 in favor.

In short, the recommendations include directing the study for renewable energy suitability and potential siting at specific locations including: Camp Rilea, Nestucca, Reedsport, and the area off Lakeside. These areas, if fully built out would comprise approximately 2% of Oregon’s Territorial Sea, and most importantly avoid sensitive ecological areas, and areas important for recreation. The amended plan, including the policies, standards, and procedures also includes additional recommendations for periodic review, a cap on the amount of future build out, and the distribution of sites along the coast.

Oregon has come a very long way as a State over the past five years because of this Territorial Sea Planning process. We now know more about the human uses and important habitats off our coast than ever before, which will aid in our long-term stewardship efforts.  As a state, we have made policy choices that form a commitment to generating 25% of our electricity from renewable sources by 2025. With advancement of this comprehensive plan and rigorous research and development, a significant portion of this goal can be accomplished through ocean renewable energy conversion.

This plan, when taken as a package represents a significant opportunity for the emerging renewable energy industry, while at the same time protects existing uses of our nearshore such as ocean recreation that are significant contributors to our State economically, socially and culturally.

We would like to extend our sincere appreciation to the Department of Land Conservation and Development staff and Commission for all of their hard work and leadership throughout this process, as well as the many stakeholders and citizens who have worked together for several years in collaboration to help develop this plan. At the end of the day, this is a significant accomplishment for Oregon and it’s ocean users, and a significant step towards reducing our fossil fuel consumption.