National Estuary Program in Region 10
On this Page: What is the National Estuary Program | Puget Sound | Lower Columbia River | Tillamook Bay | Additional Information
What is the National Estuary Program?
Estuaries are places where rivers meet the sea. Estuaries are critical to the health of coastal environments and to our enjoyment of them.
The National Estuary Program (NEP) was established by Congress in 1987 in amendments to the Clean Water Act. Its primary objective is to protect estuaries of national significance that are threatened by degradation caused by human activity. The program is administered by the US Environmental Protection Agency which provides funding and technical support to local NEPs. Local NEPs must be collaborative, locally driven entities that address the complex and competing issues facing the water body.
The NEP was one of the first major shifts to watershed management. NEPs work at building community based processes to implement environmental protection programs with specific actions to address environmental problems. To date, there are 28 nationally designated estuaries in the program. Of these, three are in Region 10: Puget Sound, Lower Columbia River, and Tillamook Bay (Link these to the corresponding headers within the page).
The goal of an estuary program is to develop and implement a management plan (known as a Comprehensive Conservation and Management Plan or CCMP) for the designated study area. That plan must carry specific actions that will address priority problems. It also must identify parties to implement the actions, a plan to ensure implementation occurs and funding options for each action.
Puget Sound was given priority status in the 1987 amendments to the Clean Water Act and became one of the original programs in the NEP. The first CCMP was approved in 1991 for Puget Sound and much has been done subsequently. Persistent threats to this valuable ecosystem, however, led Washington State in 2007 to create a new state agency, the Puget Sound Partnership (PSP), to reinvigorate these efforts. PSP released an Action Agenda in December 2008 which describes a set of actions and priorities to restore and protect Puget Sound by 2020. The Action Agenda identifies the following threats:
Bevin Horn, EPA Region 10 National Estuary Program Coordinator, firstname.lastname@example.org, 206-553-1566
Lower Columbia River
- Habitat Alteration and Land Conversion
- Surface and Groundwater Supply
- Invasive Species
- Artificial Propagation of Species
Actions identified were organized around five priority strategies:
- Protect Intact Ecosystem Processes, Structures, and Functions
- Restore Ecosystem Processes, Structures, and Functions
- Prevent Water Pollution at its Source
- Work Together
- Build an Implementation, Monitoring, and Accountability Management System
The NEP for the Lower Columbia is the Lower Columbia River Estuary Partnership (LCREP). LCREP works to protect and restore the lower Columbia River estuary with on-the-ground improvements and education and information programs. The LCREP CCMP identifies and addresses the following key environmental issues:
- Biological Integrity
- Impacts of Human Activity and Growth
- Habitat Loss and Modification
- Conventional Pollutants
- Toxic Contaminants
- Institutional Constraints
- Public Awareness and Stewardship
The NEP for Tillamook Bay (as well as the other Estuaries of Tillamook County) is the Tillamook Estuaries Partnership (TEP). TEP is dedicated to enhancing the estuaries of Tillamook County, Oregon and the many watersheds that sustain them. The TEP CCMP identifies and addresses the following key environmental issues:
Addtional Information and Program Contact
- Loss and Degradation of Key Habitat
- Water Quality Impairment due to Point and Nonpoint Sources
- Erosion and Sedimentation
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