Oregon Kelp Forest Status Report and Restoration Plan


The Oregon Kelp Alliance (ORKA) is a community-based organization representing diverse interests in kelp forest stewardship and restoration in the state of Oregon and has received a $945,000 grant from NOAA’s National Centers for Coastal Ocean Studies (NCCOS) to conduct a coast wide kelp forest assessment and restoration plan in Oregon. 

This project will provide essential baseline data on kelp forest ecosystem health. This information is critical for enabling informed management, conservation, and restoration initiatives. These activities will promote public engagement and collaboration with multiple stakeholders through the Oregon Kelp Alliance and our partners.

Several members and partners of the Oregon Kelp Alliance (ORKA) are currently engaged in essential kelp forest management, conservation, and restoration efforts that will be informed by these data. ORKA will use a multifaceted approach to gather data, including aerial surveys using drones, underwater SCUBA surveys of kelp forests, and remotely operated vehicle video surveys to provide a complete and current assessment of kelp forest health in Oregon.

The goal of this project is to perform a coast-wide snapshot of the extent and status of kelp forests in Oregon. These data will provide the following: 1) A barometer of ecosystem health of Oregon’s kelp forests. 2) Enable informed science-driven management, conservation, and restoration activities. 3) Serve as a baseline to measure the impacts of climate change and management efforts. These data will provide key information on the health of this important coastal resource, and enable managers and communities to aid in its recovery.

Who is involved?

Ben Scheelk of The Ocean Foundation leads as the fiscal sponsor for this project. Co-investigators are Tom Calvanese (Oregon Sea Grant), Dr. Sara Hamilton (University of California – Davis), Dr. Sarah Gravem (Oregon State University), Dr. Aaron Galloway (University of Oregon), Dan Abbott and Diana Hollingshead (Reef Check Oregon), and Jim Burke (Oregon Coast Aquarium).

What are the impacted species?

This comprehensive survey will include a myriad of kelp forest species, including bull kelp and other kelps, red and purple sea urchins, pycnopodia and other sea star species, red and flat abalone, rockfishes, lingcod and other kelp forest fish species, as well as other invertebrate species.