MidCoast Watersheds Council speaker series

On the first Thursday of every month through June 2020, the MidCoast Watersheds Council hosts speakers who explore issues around carbon storage in inter-tidal wetlands. Their goal is to raise local awareness and make our coast more resilient for people, fish and wildlife. The talks are entertaining, well-attended, free and they instill hope.

On March 5, Dr. J. Boone Kaufman (professor of Ecosystems Ecology at OSU's Department of Fisheries, Wildlife, and Conservation Sciences) spoke about how our tidal wetlands effect global climate change.

Things I learned from Kaufman's talk: inter-tidal wetlands — including salt marshes, swamps, mangroves, riparian zones and the eelgrass fields off the coast — store enormous quantities of "blue carbon." Sitka Spruce tidal forests hold as much carbon as old growth coast range forests. Pacific NW marshes sequester more carbon than any other area on Earth. However, more than 90 percent of our historic forest habitats have been converted to other uses such as pasture and housing developments, which release huge amounts of carbon.

Sea level in Newport is expected to rise 24 to 50 inches. The more salt in the water, the less diversity of life. The highest ocean acidification in the world is happening here in the Pacific Northwest. How can we stop the damage? Let the tidal flow return.

Wetlands restoration has a huge economic significance for Lincoln County and Newport. Things the coastal municipalities can do: stop applying biosolids to agricultural farmland because the carbon escapes into the atmosphere; meet carbon neutral standards (California did it); convert vehicle fleets to electric cars.

The next presentation is Thursday, April 2, at 6:30 p.m. in the Doerfler Theater, Pacific Maritime Heritage Center. A huge thank you to the MidCoast Watersheds Council staff and volunteers for their vision and dedication, and to all the presenters in this series.

Carla Perry



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