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Oregon State University To Launch Two Research Projects Through Rural Communities Initiative

By Mark Floyd, OSU 6/28/06

CORVALLIS, Oregon - Oregon State University will launch two seed projects this summer through its Sustainable Rural Communities Initiative that will explore impacts of land-use and resource management policies in southern Oregon and along the Oregon coast.

One study will engage decision-makers and residents in the Klamath Basin, exploring how Oregon's land-use planning system affects owners of agricultural lands and their ability to manage their land - and water rights and usage - in a sustainable manner.

The second project will train local residents in three coastal communities to gather data on the importance of fishing to their community, characteristics of local fishermen and fishing families, economic change, changes in the fishing effort, and effects of recent management decisions.

"In both projects, we are looking to create partnerships with local civic leaders and citizens to collectively gauge the impact of state and federal policies on local communities," said Bruce Weber, a professor of agricultural and resource economics at OSU and director of the Sustainable Rural Communities Initiative. "The leaders of both projects are developing proposals for external support to sustain the relationships they'll develop this summer."

Hannah Gosnell, an assistant professor in OSU's Department of Geosciences, will lead the Klamath Basin project. The university-funded seed grant will allow five OSU faculty members from different disciplines to work with Extension faculty in Klamath County to explore the impacts of land-use planning in the Klamath Basin, and develop relationships with decision-makers and landowners.

Other OSU faculty members involved in the project include Gail Achterman, director of the Institute for Natural Resources; Bill Jaeger, an agricultural and resource economist; Denise Lach, a sociologist; Lindsey Lyons, an Extension faculty member in Klamath County; and Desiree Tullos, a bioengineer.

Their work will support the comprehensive look at Oregon's state land-use planning system undertaken by the Oregon Task Force on Land Use Planning.

The coastal communities project will be led by Flaxen Conway, an associate professor of sociology at OSU who also works as a community outreach specialist for Sea Grant Extension. Conway will help train local residents in three coastal communities to gather "scientifically defensible" data.

That data will help regional and federal decision-makers to better understand the potential impacts that fisheries management policies may have on coastal communities.

Community profiles produced during the project will be used to supplement a series of "short profiles" on communities already being supplied to the Pacific Fisheries Management Council, which makes fisheries management decisions for Oregon. Working with Conway will be Bryan Tilt, a new OSU anthropologist who previously worked for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration producing those profiles.

The specific coastal communities will be named later, Conway said, but all three will be port towns that are active in different aspects of the fishing industry.

Funding for the seed projects has been provided by OSU as part of the university's strategic plan.

About Oregon State University: OSU is one of only two U.S. universities designated a land grant, sea grant, space grant and sun grant institution. OSU is also Oregon's largest public research university, garnering more than 60 percent of the total federal and private research funding in the Oregon University System.

Oregon State University
416 Kerr Administration Bldg.
Corvallis, Oregon 97331

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