This presentation is part of the Cape Perpetua Speaker Series, hosted by the Cape Perpetua Collaborative.

Consideration of social and cultural dimensions in coastal and marine planning has increased over the past several decades, and local community dynamics around marine protected area designation and resource management more broadly has been the subject of much ocean and coastal management social science research. However, broader public opinions and attitudes about coastal resources and marine protected areas are not well understood and are critical for managers seeking to maintain their public trust obligations in environmental management.

Max and Kaegan explored relationships between awareness, attitudes and beliefs towards coastal and marine resource issues and uses, and demographics among a sample of Oregon, USA residents (n=459), and tested their influence on support for expanding Oregon’s recently established marine reserves. They also conducted and analyzed a public participation geographic information system (PPGIS) mapping survey (n=244) to capture uses and perceived values of coastal and marine areas. They measured coastal values, explored regional differences in those values, and identified a suite of coastal and marine ecosystem services that Oregonians prioritize from the recently established marine reserve network.

Max and Kaegan found that public support for Oregon’s marine reserves is linked to concerns for the ecological integrity of Oregon’s ocean jurisdiction and attitudes towards a number of human uses of the ocean. Support is generally high with >65% reporting interest in expanding the number or size of Oregon’s marine reserves. In mapping results, they incorporated ecosystem service value types into a use (indirect and direct) and non-use (existence) value framework, and found that participants prioritized indirect use (scenic, recreation) over direct use and existence values coastwide. Within Oregon’s marine reserve system, which was not delineated in the mapping exercise, value preferences diverged from coastwide averages, wherein existence values (biodiversity/wildlife, wilderness, etc.) were elevated above other categories.

Kaegan Scully-Engelmeyer is a recent graduate from the Earth, Environment and Society PhD program at Portland State University’s School of the Environment. He received his B.A. in Environmental Studies at University of Oregon in 2009 and worked for several years in natural resource management projects in Oregon ranging from wetland conservation and management to endangered species recovery. His graduate research focused on landscape scale topics along the Oregon Coast, including human dimensions of coastal and marine resources and connections between forestry management practices and freshwater and estuarine aquatic communities.


Dr. Max Nielsen-Pincus is an associate professor of environmental management at Portland State University (PSU). He received his Ph.D. in 2007 in natural resource management from the University of Idaho’s Department of Forest Resources, and is an interdisciplinary scientist with a background covering both environmental and social sciences. Dr. Nielsen-Pincus’s research focuses on the human dimensions of forests, watershed, and coastal management, and he is currently chair of PSUs Department of Environmental Science and Management.


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