Oregon’s Marine Reserves are areas within our coastal nearshore waters dedicated to conservation and scientific research.Oregon’s five marine reserves — Cape Falcon, Cape Perpetua, Cascade Head, Otter Rock, and Redfish Rocks — have distinct habitats and biological characteristics. Visitors are welcome to explore tidepools, go for a paddle, and take hikes along the shoreline of marine reserves, yet many people don’t know how to access them.
To help engage visitors to check out the marine reserves and the scientific research occurring there, staff and volunteers from each of the five reserves have created a digital “hospitality packet” full of ways to experience these natural areas. Compiled in a Google Drive folder, the hospitality packet includes information about each of the five reserve’s key attractions and attributes, beach access points, viewpoints, tidepool areas and suggested activities such as hikes and whale watching. For each reserve, you’ll find marketing content such as photos, maps, videos and guides that can be shared on social media, in newsletters, and linked to websites and/or inserted into reservation confirmations.
“This is the first time since the marine reserves were created that we’ve developed a comprehensive resource for visitors,” says Tara DuBois, communications coordinator for the
Cape Perpetua Area Collaborative, a group working to foster conservation and collaboration within local communities in and around Cape Perpetua Marine Reserve. “We want to help visitors understand how to explore the marine reserves, and also learn how to do so without having significant adverse impacts on these fragile ecosystems.”
The Oregon Coast Visitors Association (OCVA) assisted with the development of the hospitality packets and will help get the word out about them to hospitality partners along the Coast. In partnership with a content media agency, the Outdoor Project, OCVA was able to curate all the relevant marine reserve activities and information into easy-to-use resources for tourism businesses.
“By creating a comprehensive resource like this, and offering it free of charge to businesses, we hope to encourage business owners to learn about all the great opportunities the marine reserves hold for visitors. We hope they will become on-the-ground activities experts who can offer suggestions about outings to their guests,” says Marcus Hinz, OCVA executive director. “We think visitors will appreciate having this ‘know before you go’ information at their fingertips.”
The Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife (ODFW) oversees the management and scientific monitoring of these areas. Over the past several years ODFW has been conducting visitor surveys to gain a better understanding of who visits these areas and why. These surveys provided key information about visitor behavior and preferences. For example, just over half of the coastal visitors were from Oregon, and visitors tended to have moderately high-income levels. They also tended to have higher levels of education, with over half holding college degrees. The majority of visitors stayed overnight on the coast, averaging about six nights during their stay. Go here for more information about these visitor surveys.
“The fact that the majority of visitors to areas adjacent to the marine reserves are overnight guests, often staying up to six nights, tells us that the reserves are important destinations to pay attention to and inform visitors about,” Hinz says.
Otter Rock photo by Karen Driscoll