Graham Sustainability Institute

Improving Understanding of Sediment Dynamics and Management Applications for the South Slough Reserve and the Coos Bay Estuary

May 2017

The Coos Bay estuary has a diverse set of end users who share a common need: to better understand circulation and sediment transport under current and future conditions. The estuary is one of three Oregon estuaries designated as “deep draft development,” which means that planners must balance industry, restoration, and natural resource goals. The project team’s primary research objectives are to fill data gaps that are critical to addressing their myriad management needs. These needs include characterizing the present-day sediment distribution, monitoring sediment fluxes to the estuary, and modeling how circulation and sediment in the estuary will respond to perturbations due to both natural and human-induced causes—such as dredging or inundation caused by sea level rise.

The project has direct application to management objectives identified by the South Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve and the broader needs of identified end users, including Coos County, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, Oregon Department of Environmental Quality, and the Oregon Institute of Marine Biology. These end users will remain actively engaged during the project to reach agreed-upon outcomes, such as updating the estuarine management plan, improving the success of oyster restoration projects, informing fisheries habitat maps, and increasing data efficiency among community stakeholders.


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