At Crag, we understand that litigation is just one tool in the toolbox for affecting the change necessary to protect our environment for future generations.  We also focus on education, outreach, and grassroots support for our clients.  Planning for renewable energy in Oregon’s territorial sea is an example of one area where we are supporting our clients through policy development and public education.

The State has a planning goal for ocean resources (Goal 19) that requires state agencies to protect renewable marine resources, the biological diversity of marine life and the marine ecosystem, and important marine habitat areas within the three nautical-mile territorial sea.  A few years ago, when members of the newly emerging wave energy industry expressed interest in developing wave energy off Oregon’s coast, the State realized it would need to balance protection of these resources with the incentive to develop clean power technologies.

But where are these resources, important habitat, and existing uses located?  How can we avoid conflicts with wave energy if we don’t know where the most sensitive habitats, the best fishing and crabbing grounds, or the sweetest views are?  Underway now is an effort to map the current ocean uses and Goal 19 protected resources.  State agencies have been working with the fishing industry, recreationists, non-profit organizations and scientists to produce maps of the resources to be protected.  Just as land is zoned for certain uses, these maps will form the basis for a similar “zoning” of the territorial sea in order to help inform future ocean use proposals.

On Friday I attended a public work session with members of the Territorial Sea Plan Working Group in Salem.  Our client Oregon Shores Conservation Coalition has a seat on the committee.  Members of the panel and state agency representatives gave an overview of the process and showed us the results to date.  I was impressed with the collaborative approach and 360-degree look at the protection of ocean resources.  I think the real challenge will come if and when the maps show competing resources or uses in the same area.  How will one use be prioritized over another?  Will the State carve out a place for wave energy in the territorial sea?  Will it have to?  I’m looking forward to finding out.  For more information go to the State’s Ocean Information website and check out Ecotrope’s recent post.