Linkages between forestry practices and Oregon's estuarine shellfish (2018-20)

Elise Granek
Environmental Science and Management
Portland State University

Co-PIs: Max Nielsen-Pincus (Portland State University), Rebecca Flitcroft (United States Forest Service), Patrick Moran (United States Geological Survey), Elena Nilsen (United States Geological Survey), Steve Rumrill (Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife), Andrew Lanier (Department of Land Conservation), Lori Pillsbury (Oregon Department of Environmental Quality), Laura Brown (Confederated Tribes of the Siletz Indians), Turner Odell (National Policy Consensus Center)

Runoff from terrestrial herbicides and pesticides has the potential to affect Oregon’s culturally and economically important shellfish in downstream estuaries through hormonal, reproductive, and developmental disruption. Currently, little is known about whether forestry practices present risks to estuarine shellfish through the use of pesticides and herbicides. Forest policy and management vary across private, state, and federal jurisdictions creating broad forest-management regimes, some of which use chemical herbicides and pesticides to encourage re-establishment of commercially and environmentally important forest cover. This project will examine whether the contaminant profiles in downstream shellfish vary by the upstream forestry management regime, and therefore will help to address whether forestry  practices in Oregon are a potential source of shellfish contaminant pollution. The results can inform whether reform is needed in some management regimes to reduce exposure to chemical pollution in estuarine shellfish.

The team will track concentrations of forestry-related aquatic contaminants in estuarine shellfish commonly consumed by humans (e.g., oysters and softshell clams) in several coastal watersheds dominated by different forest management regimes. An engaged stakeholder group representing diverse end-users will help frame the issue and guide the project. Ultimately the research team seeks to clarify connections between forest management regimes and contaminants in estuarine shellfish to inform future forestry policy discussion. The project will also inform oyster growers and softshell clam harvesters about spatially variable shellfish contamination, to better manage risk and future growing or harvesting. Targeted outreach, designed with significant input from the stakeholder engagement group, will engage private, public, and non-governmental stakeholders.

OSG Thematic Areas: Ecological, social, and economic aspects of coastal development; Human and natural dimensions of coastal and marine fisheries

National Sea Grant Strategic Plan Focus Areas: Healthy coastal ecosystems; Sustainable fisheries and aquaculture

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Dr. Elise Granek at PSU: