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Interactions between Human Communities and Estuaries in the Pacific Northwest: Trends and Implications for Management

Daniel D. Huppert, Rebecca L. Johnson, Jessica Leahy and Kathleen Bell
Estuaries
Vol. 26, No. 4, Part B: The Pacific Northwest Coastal Ecosystems Regional Study (Aug., 2003), pp. 994-1009
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1353380
Page Count: 16
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Interactions between Human Communities and Estuaries in the Pacific Northwest: Trends and Implications for Management
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Abstract

This paper explores social and economic aspects of coastal communities crucial to the management of estuaries in the Pacific Northwest. These aspects include the changing demographics and economies of coastal communities, and the public perceptions, attitudes, and values pertaining to estuarine ecosystems. Information from Willapa Bay and Grays Harbor in Washington and Tillamook, Yaquina, and Coos Bays in Oregon shows that the coastal communities are growing more slowly than the states overall, that the populations are relatively old, and that, although the local economies continue to rely on them, the extractive natural resource industries (fishing, aquaculture, agriculture, forest products) are declining in importance relative to tourism, recreation, and retirement industries. These trends suggest that human uses of the estuaries are changing in character, and altering the management problems. Coastal residents choose to live in these communities to enjoy the views and scenery, to experience rural living, to be near the ocean, and to recreate outdoors. People express coherent perceptions of risks to the estuaries, especially the threats of declining fish habitats, oil spills, shoreline development, invasive species, and logging in upland areas. Residential land values are enhanced by the presence of wetlands and forests and are diminished by the presence of hazardous waste sites. We conclude that, if recent trends in population age structure, income sources, and employment status continue, public attitudes and values will move towards stronger environmental protection. Because ecosystem management involves local public participation and collaboration, estuarine managers will be faced with both increased demands and opportunities.

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