By Tiffany Woods
Oregon Sea Grant and the Oregon State University Extension Service have hired a coastal water resources specialist.
Miranda Gray starts Sept. 12 and will be based at the Extension office in Gold Beach.
“I saw this position as meeting a huge need on the south coast and as an opportunity that I couldn't pass up – one that draws on my background in community-based natural resource management, my love for this area, and also the incredible resources available through OSU Extension and Oregon Sea Grant,” Gray said.
A resident of Gold Beach, she became the coordinator of the South Coast Watershed Council in 2018 and worked with communities on watershed restoration and education projects. She also serves on the leadership team of the Curry Watersheds Partnership and on the board of the Network of Oregon Watershed Councils.
“Over the past five years working and living on the south coast, I've come to understand many of the water-related issues that our communities face,” she said. “I'm excited to help our communities understand and address these water issues together.”
In her new job, Gray will focus on issues related to water supply, surface and groundwater quality, and community access to clean water along the south coast.
“This position will build relationships with communities and tribes on the southern Oregon coast to identify priority issues related to water resources, such as water scarcity, water quality, water access, and nuisance flooding, and to collaboratively develop practical solutions,” said Karina Nielsen, the director of Oregon Sea Grant.
Gray will develop educational programs that help people understand coastal water issues, factors affecting access to water, how freshwater resources are managed, and the trade-offs of different management approaches. One of the goals is to empower and inspire people and organizations to improve the health, supply, and sustainable management of water resources. An important part of Gray’s job, Nielsen said, will be to build relationships with underserved communities and support their resilience.
“Underserved communities are disproportionately bearing the burdens of declining availability and quality of water resources, and the impacts of inundation and flooding” Nielsen said.
Originally from New Mexico, Gray earned a bachelor’s degree in math from Macalester College in Minnesota in 2007 and a master’s in environmental sciences and policy from Northern Arizona University in 2013.
In 2014, she was contracted by the Environmental Protection Agency in Newport, Oregon, for a year to help develop a database of ecological models. After that, she worked as a scientist with the nonprofit Conservation Science Partners in northern California. She wrote grant proposals, worked on modeling and developed tools for resource managers.
In 2017-18, she led a project that was funded by the Department of Defense to develop a web-based, mapping tool to forecast fire risk on the agency’s lands in the western United States.