Oregon Ocean Conservation Fund Protects Coastal Resources

Oregon’s coastline stretches 360 miles with state waters extending three nautical miles from shore. Our ocean hosts abundant and diverse wildlife, plays a crucial role in regulating the climate, and is a significant economic driver supporting coastal tourism, outdoor recreation, and fishing. At the same time, our ocean is facing increased threats from climate change (sea level rise and acidification) and pollution.

Starting in 2012, Oregon created five marine protected areas down the coast. In some of our most scenic places, the reserves protect nearshore marine biodiversity and serve as living laboratories. Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife created its first long-term nearshore ocean conservation and monitoring program to better understand our ocean, and in February 2022, ODFW released a report on the first 10 years of the reserves.

In 2023, the state will evaluate the effectiveness of the marine reserves. As a result of the evaluation and emerging science, marine reserve numbers, shape, and sizes could change.

Oregon’s Marine ReservesOregon Marine Reserves photo credit Oregon Coast Aquarium

Oregon has five marine reserves: Cape Falcon, Cascade Head, Otter Rock, Cape Perpetua, and Redfish Rocks

The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) oversees the management and scientific monitoring of the state’s marine reserve system. Learn more about Oregon’s Marine Reserves at oregonmarinereserves.com.

Currently, Oregon is updating its Rocky Habitat Management Strategy, which includes management designations for all tidepools, headland cliffs, submerged reefs, and offshore rocks and islands. Marine reserves and rocky habitat protections conserve biodiversity, enhance some fisheries, build resilience to climate change, and can have significant economic benefits. These efforts present opportunities to raise awareness and engage Oregonians, especially in our rural, coastal communities.

Recognizing the importance of a healthy ocean and coast to Oregon’s culture and economy, three foundations, the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, Lazar Foundation, and The Harder Foundation, established an advised fund at Oregon Community Foundation to support local nonprofits cormorant and chickworking on these issues.

The Oregon Ocean Conservation Fund facilitates the engagement of coastal residents, communities, and businesses in helping to protect the health of Oregon’s ocean. Through the fund, donors can leverage their resources, learn in partnership, and benefit from shared professional support.

Since its establishment in 2017, the Oregon Ocean Conservation Fund has made more than $600,000 in grants to local nonprofit organizations. Grants range from $5,000 to $35,000:


  • Lower Nehalem Community Trust for Friends of Cape Falcon Marine Reserve to educate and engage north Oregon coastal community leaders, businesses, and visitors as well as to support research activities in the Cape Falcon Marine Reserve, located off Oswald West State Park between Manzanita and Cannon Beach.
  • Discover Your Northwest for the Cascade Head Biosphere Reserve to build long-term support for the Cascade Head Biosphere Reserve and Marine Reserve by working with local tourism businesses in the Lincoln City area.
  • Discover Your Northwest for the Cape Perpetua Collaborative to support a group of nongovernmental organizations, businesses, tribes, and government agencies to build public support for the Cape Perpetua Marine Reserve near Yachats. 
  • The Ocean Foundation for the Redfish Rocks Community Team to build support for the Redfish Rocks Marine Reserve in Port Orford by telling the story of how the marine protected area benefits communities on Oregon’s South Coast and holding the annual summer Redfish Rocks on the Docks event.
  • The Oregon Coast Trail Foundation to raise awareness about Oregon Marine Reserves and the Oregon Coast Trail through two videos on two sections of the trail that run along two of Oregon’s marine reserves.
  • Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife for the Oregon Conservation & Recreation Fund to fund the Elakha Alliance to educate and engage the public, Oregon's coastal tribes, and other stakeholders around the potential of restoring otters on the Oregon coast.

 Learn MoreOregon Marine Reserves Intertidal Surveys

OCF relies on the generosity of our donors and the work of grantees to create positive impacts across communities. For more information, including how to support the fund, please contact Carlos Garcia, program officer, environment, at (503) 227-6846 or cgarcia@oregoncf.org.