Proposal recently funded by the Federal Geographic Data Committee (FGDC),
National Spatial Data Infrastructure (NSDI) FY 1998 Cooperative Agreements Program.
The objectives and technical approach of this proposal were patterned after the excellent efforts of the Olympic Natural Resources Center in creating the Clearinghouse for the Olympic Peninsula, (Peterson, D.L., Chrisman, N.R., Schreiner, E.G., principal investigators, "A Clearinghouse for Geographic Data on the Olympic Peninsula", 1997).

Dawn Wright
Department of Geosciences, Oregon State University

Greg McMurray, Sara Breslow
Pacific Northwest Coastal Ecosystems Regional Study

Jim Guyton, Ann Stark, Sean Allen
Tillamook Coastal Watershed Resource Center

Steve Barnett
State Service Center for GIS

Sam Doak
(formerly Interrain Pacific)

Abstract | Introduction | Support of NSDI | Methods | Data | Deliverables | Participants
Collaborations | Work Plan | References | Budget |

Although much data and information are available for the coast of Oregon, they are scattered in various formats among several federal, state, and local agencies, research institutes and universities. There is no central repository or access point for natural resource geographic data for the Oregon coast. Therefore, as a collaborative effort between university, federal, state, and regional entities, we will develop a much-needed geospatial clearinghouse for the Oregon coast that can be used to disseminate natural resources data to organization and individuals for management, research and educational applications. The clearinghouse will be an NSDI-searchable node including coverage of coastal and marine resource thematic data and FGDC-compliant metadata for all of Oregon, as well as embedded URL linkages to data throughout the state. Protocols will be established for maintenance and update, and training will be provided to clearinghouse users and cooperators. Data mining efforts in support of the clearinghouse will serve as a testbed for the implementation of the new FGDC Standards for Shoreline Data. The clearinghouse will be designed in such a way as to be easily accessible and understood by coastal managers, scientists, decision-makers and citizens of Oregon desiring to obtain geographic information on coastal resources.


The coast is a region where complex political and resource issues are increasingly being negotiated and balanced. The mild climate, ocean access, wildlife, scenic, timber, and mineral resources of the Oregon coast easily attracted the initial settlement and economic development of hundreds of communities. Over the past 150 years, the landscape and ecosystems of the Oregon coast (Figure 1), already subject to many variable natural forces, have been affected the most by human activities (Stein et al., 1996).

Map of the 
Oregon Coastal Zone

Figure 1.
The Oregon Coastal Zone extends seaward to the edge of the Territorial Sea, 3 miles offshore, and inland to the crest of the Coast Range, except in the Rogue, Umpqua, and Columbia River basins. On the Columbia River, the coastal zone extends to Puget Island, near the Clatsop County line; on the Umpqua, to Scottsburg at the head of the tide; on the Rogue, to Agness, above the head of the tide. (Map courtesy of Randy Dana, Oregon Department of Land Conservation and Development, Coastal Division).

Commercial and recreational fishing, shipping, recreation and tourism, and mineral extraction are just a few of the resource uses upon which Oregonians in coastal communities rely for their livelihood and quality of life. Because the economy and culture of much of the Oregon coast continues to rely on natural resources, it is important that the public, political leaders, resource managers, and resource users be better informed about the status of ecosystem conditions, the nature of the forces affecting ecosystems, and alternatives to past management practices (Stein et al., 1996). Developing and carrying out resource management programs that are ecosystem-sensitive and have public support requires that scientists and managers have efficient access to high-quality coastal and marine data as they continue to assess and plan for the use and protection of precious resources. For example, analyses of vegetation patterns in the western Cascades of Oregon (Spies et al. 1994) demonstrate the value of using diverse data sources across political boundaries to assess spatial patterns and managerial options. For any specific geographic region, it is valuable to have a repository of geo-referenced data on natural resources that can be accessed by both governmental and non-governmental organizations (e.g., Goodchild et al. 1993, Michener et al. 1994, Goodchild et al. 1996).

Although much data and information are available for the Oregon coast, they are scattered in various formats among several federal, state, and local agencies, research institutes and universities. There is no central repository or access point for natural resource geographic data of the Oregon coast. Tracking down desired data and metadata remains a daunting task for managers and scientists. For the GENERAL PUBLIC the task is even more difficult. Many data sets are restricted to individual projects and then shelved, eliminating the potential for usefulness in a myriad of additional planning, management, and scientific projects. Managers, scientists, and the public have all expressed confusion over the complexity of identifying data at suitable scales, formats, and quality for designated management areas. Clearly then, there is a need for an established clearinghouse, as well as a unified, policy-driven data framework. Fortunately, the state of Oregon has an impressive history of visionary land use legislation and coastal development guidelines, initially developed during the McCall governorship over 20 years ago. Therefore, a clearinghouse effort has a much better chance of success and enduring impact in Oregon, where there is already a commitment to rational land use planning, coastal zone conservation, and citizen access to geospatial information.

Oregon State University (OSU) has a well-established and reputable GIS program, with speedy and reliable Internet access at no cost to research projects performed on its campus, as well as hardware and software maintenance contracts in place for a wide variety of computing platforms. It is therefore well-suited to house a regional node of the NSDI. A partnership of OSU with the Pacific Northwest Coastal Ecosystems Regional Study (PNCERS, funded by the Coastal Ocean Program of NOAA and the Oregon Coastal Management Program of Oregon's Department of Land Conservation and Development), the State Service Center for Geographic Information Systems (SSCGIS; one of the earliest GIS groups in the entire Pacific Northwest, funded by the State of Oregon Department of Administrative Services and strongly endorsed and guided by the Oregon Geographic Information Council or OGIC), the Tillamook Bay Watershed Resource Center (formerly one of 28 National Estuary Projects established nationwide by the EPA), and Interrain Pacific (one of the largest non-profit environmental conservation organizations in the Pacific Northwest and a leader in public access GIS) holds tremendous potential for the efficient administration of a regional data clearinghouse, along with timely delivery of GIS services in support of various research and management agendas.



The NSDI, with its timely focus on rethinking the methods of spatial data delivery to users, represents a welcome change from the centralist period in geographic information management when federal agencies dominated decisions and data resources. The NSDI recognizes that local empowerment will work only if there are local groups to take up the challenge of data dissemination. The focus of the proposed project is on localized development and implementation of the National Geospatial Data Clearinghouse, in order to increase awareness and use of geospatial data. We will develop a geospatial clearinghouse for the Oregon coast that can be used to disseminate natural resources data to organizations and individuals for management, research and educational applications. It is our hope that at some point in the future we will be able to expand to the coasts of Washington and northern California or to partner with these clearinghouses as they are developed. Specifically we will:

In principle the above activities will help to build or strengthen relationships among organizations in Oregon that will support digital geographic data coordination for coastal data (see the "Data Sources and Participants" section below). Statewide coordination of this type may serve as an example to other coastal states, and stimulate growth of similar clearinghouse efforts. Our project will be closely related to ongoing projects in Washington state on the Olympic Peninsula, (Peterson et al., 1997, "A Clearinghouse for Geographic Data on the Olympic Peninsula"), and in Florida. The Florida project is the ONLY coastal/marine project to be funded thus far by the FGDC (Friel, C. et al., 1997, "Establishing a National Geospatial Clearinghouse Node at the Florida Marine Research Institute").

Our project has great merit not only because of its relevance to the NSDI, but because it promises unparalleled collaboration between academe, state/federal government, and private non- profit entities. This will lead to an important institutional framework for further regional cooperation, helping to identify major stakeholders in coastal management, and to organize thoughts and efforts towards jointly-identified coastal issues.

In addition, our efforts will provide a valuable testbed for the implementation of the new FGDC Standards for Shoreline Data (chartmaker.ncd.noaa.gov/ocs/text/FEDREG.HTM). At present the standard consists of a bibliography, a glossary, and an FGDC metadata profile for shoreline data (Lockwood, Millington. "Re: FGDC proposal outline". 14 February 1998. Personal Email.) A working draft will be available in June, 1998 and the subcommittee is in great need of a real-life project with which to evaluate the standard (see letter of support from M. Lockwood of the FGDC Bathymetric Subcommittee). The FGDC Bathymetric Subcommittee will assist us by holding a Coastal Zone Geospatial Data and GIS workshop in the Fall of 1998 in Corvallis (an "in-kind" contribution to the project). The workshop will cover the particulars of the draft shoreline standard and will assist us in defining the level of effort and steps required to implement the shoreline aspects of the Oregon coast clearinghouse.



We will initially catalog web URLs of existing coastal geographic data and metadata under the purview of OSU, PNCERS, TCWRC, SSCGIS, and Interrain. Next we will determine which organizations have geographic data for the Oregon coast. We will then: (1) identify contact information for each organization and its GIS manager; (2) describe what data layers are available; and (3) compile metadata for each data layer of each organization. All submitted data will be required to adhere to FGDC standards. Although all organizations will be encouraged to participate fully, those with proprietary interests (e.g., private landowners) may simply provide contact information and some limited description of the data.

We will pay particular attention to establishing capabilities that endure after the project ends, so that OSU will be able to maintain the clearinghouse indefinitely. Protocols based on FGDC and Federal Spatial Data Transfer Standards will be compiled for maintaining data stored at or linked to from OSU and submitted by contributors. Organizations will be provided with protocols for updating their data; information on date of acquisition and frequency of updates will help users assess data quality and temporal resolution.

We will establish OSU as an operational node of the National Geospatial Data Clearinghouse and construct a web site for Oregon coast clearinghouse data, with emphasis on user-friendly components.

The ultimate configuration of the clearinghouse will be to provide the user with "one-stop shopping" of data from various sources, stored either on the web server or linked to all other appropriate sites relevant to Oregon coast natural resources.

External sites will be maintained by data contributors. Ideally, data contributors will maintain and serve the data themselves on the web, a task that is now quite feasible for most public agencies. The clearinghouse web site will be developed on a Sun Ultra 10 workstation in D. Wright's Seafloor Mapping Lab at OSU. We have chosen this Unix server over an NT machine as it provides more integrated and stable network support, particularly as a web server, and is still the superior operating system in terms of handling large data sets, complex software, higher-quality graphic output, and processing speed.

We will ensure that data layers in the Oregon coast clearinghouse have FGDC-compliant metadata. As mentioned before, some agencies (mainly federal and some state) will already have metadata for their layers. We will create FGDC-compliant metadata for other layers. This will be facilitated by metadata-collection software created by previous FGDC grant recipients. The metadata for each data set will include either "pointers" to on-line locations of the actual data set, an order form, or contact information (name, phone number, address) for the owner of the data set. We will use FGDC parsing software to ensure correct format.

To bring the clearinghouse node on-line, the metadata must be indexed using Isite software and then loaded onto the OSU Sun Ultra 10 that will be running as an Isite server. The Oregon coast clearinghouse will be set up as a "mirrored" site, with identical versions resident at both OSU in Corvallis (for best Internet connectivity) and at the SSCGIS in Salem. After testing to ensure that the node is working as expected, the node will be registered with the FGDC.

Once registered with the FGDC, the metadata on the node will be available to users through the clearinghouse gateway at the FGDC web site. We will use the prototype Java interface that FGDC has designed for clearinghouse searches. In addition to making data and metadata available through the search mechanism of the Clearinghouse, metadata will be placed on-line at a standard web site for browsing. We will make use of the FGDC-supplied metadata-parsing software that optionally creates HTML and SGML versions of the metadata. We will provide files on the Internet in Zip format for Windows machines, as Stuffit archives for Macintoshes, and as tar files for Unix platforms.

The success of the proposed clearinghouse will depend on trained users in the pool of local contributors and community groups. An outreach effort is needed to fully realize the clearinghouse's potential. Therefore, D. Wright and grad student Brian Ward will create a series of web pages (online workshops) to introduce concepts and operational aspects of the clearinghouse to the Oregon coast community as it is developed. Coordination with ongoing GIS training efforts at OSU or TCWRC will be particularly valuable.


Data Sources and Participants

Initial discussions of our proposal with representatives of various organizations have received an enthusiastic response. To date, we have identified over 30 entities that have geographic data for the Oregon coast. We have scores more to contact and will seek agreements from all to participate in the clearinghouse project. Potential contributors, in addition to the collaborating agencies of this project (OSU, PNCERS, SSCGIS, TCWRC, and Interrain) include:

Coastal Ocean Management, Planning and Assessment System (COMPAS) Project of NOAA's Ocean Resources Conservation and Assessment (ORCA) Division
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Yaquina Bay Project, Hatfield Marine Science Center, Newport
NOAA Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory, Hatfield Marine Science Center, Newport
NOAA Coastal Services Center
NOAA Hazardous Materials Response and Assessment Division (HAZMAT)
NOAA National Geodetic Survey
NOAA National Geophysical Data Center
NOAA National Marine Fisheries Service, Hatfield Marine Science Center, Newport
NOAA National Marine Fisheries Service, Northwest Fisheries Center, Seattle, WA
NOAA National Ocean Service, particularly the Mapfinder Project (mapindex.nos.noaa.gov/)
NOAA Office of Coast Survey
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
U.S. Forest Service Coastal Landscape Analysis and Modeling Study (CLAMS)
U.S. Geological Survey

Coastal Ocean Unit of the Department of Land Conservation & Development (DLCD)
Dynamic Estuary Management Information System (DEMIS)
Department of Agriculture
Department of Environmental Quality
Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW)
Department of Geology and Mineral Industries (DOGAMI)
Department of Forestry


Confederated Tribes
Grand Ronde
Coos-Lower Umpqua-Siuslaw

Pacific Marine Conservation Council
Ralph Garono, Earth Designs Consultants, Inc.
Coastal Oregon Productivity Enhancement Program (COPE) Program ( a cooperative effort among the College of Forestry at OSU, the USDA Forest Service Pacific Northwest Research Station, the USDI National Biological Service and Bureau of Land Management, other federal and state agencies, forest industry, county and city governments, and the Oregon Small Woodlands Association.)


Expected Outcome and Potential Applications

The Oregon coast clearinghouse will provide scientists, resource managers, educators and citizens user-friendly access to the best available information on natural resources for the Oregon coast. Anyone with a computer and Internet connection (now available in most public libraries) will be able to access the clearinghouse with ease.

The clearinghouse will facilitate the role of OSU, PNCERS, TCWRC, SSCGIS, and Interrain in synthesizing and distributing information on coastal natural resources. It will help to integrate a wide range of data sources and allow scientists and resource managers to analyze landscape characteristics at large spatial and temporal scales (into the future, or retrospectively with older data sets) across political boundaries. We anticipate that the clearinghouse will be used as a focus for communication and cooperation among agencies, institutions and residents of the Oregon coast, thereby leading to a common ground for decision-making.

In addition, the clearinghouse will facilitate the analysis of coastal natural resource data at large spatial scales. For example, landscape patterns can be assessed with respect to vegetation type, forest stand characteristics, geologic resources, hydrologic resources, and potential management impacts (as in Carlson et al., 1994; Spies et al., 1994). Temporal patterns can be quantified using RADARSAT data, aerial photos, aerial videography, and other retrospective techniques, thereby facilitating disaster response (Rosenfeld et al., 1996) and analysis of changes in erosion, management practices and economic activity on the coast (e.g., Staff, 1997). The clearinghouse could be used to project future changes as well, by developing various scenarios for land-use change, resource management and natural disturbance (e.g., flooding). Finally, it may be possible to use multiple data sources to rectify data-layer classifications at political boundaries, thereby resolving inconsistencies and potential conflicts across different land ownerships.




Dawn Wright, Assistant Professor, OSU Geosciences, Project Director

Greg McMurray, Project Administrator, PNCERS

Jim Guyton, Ann Stark, and Sean Allen, TCWRC

Recent press release

Steve Barnett, Data Adminstrator, SSCGIS

Sam Doak for Peter Schoonmaker, Vice President, Interrain Pacific

Millington Lockwood (NOAA Office of Coast Survey and Executive Secretary of the FGDC Bathymetric Subcommittee) and Cindy Fowler (NOAA Coastal Services Center) will conduct a 2-3 day FGDC Shoreline Data Standards Workshop for the project team at no cost to the project. They will commit $10,000 as an in-kind match to cover labor costs for NOAA workshop presenters and the evaluation of implementation options for the shoreline standard.

Total cost-share on the grant, including indirect cost rates, is $82,201.

We view the 1-year duration of this project as a stepping stone towards a major initiative that MUST be maintained well into the 21st century. Therefore, we will seek further funding after the 1-year cooperative agreement ends, most likely from the Office of Naval Research, Oregon Sea Grant, or the NOAA Environmental Services Data and Information Management (ESDIM) Program, in order to build upon the project (especially in terms of FGDC-compliant metadata creation and development or testing of standards for coastal data).


Provide Staffing Provide Other Resources Funding Support Endorsement
DIVERSITY OF PARTNERS Mgmt. Tech. Space Equip. Training Data Cash In-kind MOU Letter
Federal Agencies PNCERS



Multi-State Consortia

State Agencies SSCGIS


Regional District



Native American Tr


Private Sector Interrain



Educational Institutions OSU


Coordinating Council/Grp. TCWRC


General Public




Work Plan Milestone Chart

Receive award notification (estimated) Jul 30 1998
NSDI Kickoff Meeting / Project begins (estimated) Sep 15 1998
Procure hardware for OSU Sep 30 1998
Create database & data framework Sep - Oct 1998
Shoreline Standards workshop given by M. Lockwood & C. Fowler Oct 1998?
Deliver database design document Oct 30 1998
Catalog existing data sets & metadata.
Query statewide for data donors
Nov 1998 to Feb 1999
Create new metadata records where needed Jan - Mar 1999
Set up searchable clearinghouse node Jan - May 1999
Design web interfaces May - Jul 1999
Present beta product to regional GIS group, FGDC shoreline standards committee and/or ESRI User conference for comment Jul 15 1999
Revise clearinghouse as suggested by groups Jul 16 - Aug 30 1999
Final system available online Sep 14 1999



Carlson, S. A., L. Fox III, and R. L. Garrett. 1994. Virtual GIS and ecosystem assessment in the Klamath Province, California-Oregon. Proceedings of GIS/LIS '94. ACSM-ASPRS-AAG-URISA-AM/FM, Bethesda, Maryland, 1:133-141.

Federal Geographic Data Committee. 1996. FGDC Standards Reference Model. U.S. Geological Survey, Reston, Virginia.

Frank, S. M., M. F. Goodchild, H. J. Onsrud, and J. K. Pinto, 1995. Framework Data Sets for the NSDI. U.S. Geological Survey, Reston, Virginia. Also see www.fgdc.gov/Framework/RefMat/ncgia1.html.

Friel, C. et al., 1997. "Establishing a National Geospatial Clearinghouse Node at the Florida Marine Research Institute", research proposal.

Goodchild, M. F., B. O. Parks, L. T. Steyaert, eds. 1993. Environmental Modeling With GIS. Oxford University Press, New York.

Goodchild, M. F. et al., eds. 1996. GIS and Environmental Modeling: Progress and Research Issues. GIS World Books, Fort Collins, Colorado.

Michener, W., J. Brunt, and S. Stafford, eds. 1994. Environmental Information Management and Analysis: Ecosystem to Global Scales. Taylor & Francis, London.

Peterson, D. et al., 1997. "A Clearinghouse for Geographic Data on the Olympic Peninsula", research proposal.

Rosenfeld, C. L., G. G. Gaston, and M. L. Pearson. 1996. Integrated flood response in the Pacific Northwest. Earth Observation Magazine 5:35-48.

Spies, T. A., W. J. Ripple, and G.A. Bradshaw. 1994. Dynamics and pattern of a managed coniferous forest landscape in Oregon. Ecological Applications 4:555-568.

Staff. 1997. Managing South Florida's extensive and delicate coastal environment. ArcNews 19:15.

Stein, J. E., R. J. Bailey, A. E. Copping, and G. McMurray. 1996. Executive Summary of the Pacific Northwest Coastal Ecosystems Regional Study. Workshop Proceedings, NOAA Coastal Ocean Program. seagrant.orst.edu/~pncers/exec_sum.html.



USGS Contracts and Grants Link

PI Salary for Wright (OSU), 1 month, 0.5 FTE $2500
Graduate Student, B. Ward, hourly rate, ~3-6 months $3048
Fringe benefits for Wright and student (OSU) $1077
Subcontract: Research Asst. Salary for M. Mertens (Interrain), 80 hours $4000
Subcontract: Research Asst. Salary for S. Allen (TCWRC), ~2-4 months $6000
Domestic Travel, minimum request required for NSDI travel $5000
Sun Ultra 10 server for NSDI node and
serving web pages for the project
300 Mhz, 1 MB SC,
256MB Memory, 4GB System Disk, 21" Monitor
9GB external storage, 8mm backup
$7948($900 to be reclaimed from domestic travel)
OSU computer usage fee for workstation $500
Publication costs, materials & supplies $1000

Total Direct Costs $30,172
Total Indirect Costs
(at OSU rate of 42.5%, less equipment & subcontracts)


Last updated: April 7, 1999

Go to Dawn's Research Page