Graham Sustainability Institute

The Coos Estuary Land Use Analysis

May 2017

As the sixth largest estuary on the west coast, the Coos Bay estuary is one of Oregon’s most important ecological resources, both in its abundance, diversity, and quality and in the economic and cultural value it provides. However, modern management of the estuary and surrounding shorelands is based on the economic and social drivers of the 1970s, when local land use plans were developed. The surrounding community now agrees that current land use regulations need to evolve to reflect today’s economic and social drivers, while proactively addressing environmental changes and protecting natural resources.

This project is looking at how to create a modernized land use plan for the Coos Bay estuary that balances responsible economic development, social interests, and protection of natural resources. In order to identify areas where zone change will benefit estuarine management, this project will synthesize existing information to compare actual uses of estuarine and shorelands to zoned uses. For areas where lands are underutilized, have conflicting zones, or have obsolete zone designations, team members, end users, and stakeholders will assess economic, social, and environmental information. This will generate scenarios and recommendations that Coos County can use to improve its estuarine and shoreland management.


The University of Michigan Water Center and partners are working with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to implement the NERRS Science Collaborative, by coordinating regular funding opportunities and supporting user-driven collaborative research, assessment and transfer activities that address critical coastal management needs identified by reserves.

See: National Estuarine Research Reserve System (NERRS) Science Collaborative