Special Assignment: working with multiple government agencies.
As an intern with Environment for the Americas (EFTA) and its many partners, I am exposed to multiple government agencies as part of my daily work. For example, I work with the Bureau of Land Management more frequently than any other agency; however I have also interacted with the US Fish and Wildlife Service, as well as Oregon State Parks and Recreation. To top it all off, these agencies also have partnerships of their own with other state and federal agencies.
Why is it so confusing to work with multiple agencies at the same time? By way of example, I am going to use the situation of Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area (YHONA). This park is where I conduct most of my work, hence I am more familiar with its partners. YHONA is a 100 acre park chiefly managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) for the purpose of recreation and interpretation of the historical heritage of the Oregon Coast, as well as appreciation of the local wildlife. Perhaps the most well-known attraction in this park is its 142 year old lighthouse, which is clearly property of the BLM. Things start to get more complicated, however, when one asks the question: who is responsible for changing the lightbulb of the lighthouse? The lighthouse’s lens and lightbulb can only be accessed by trained personnel of the US Coast Guard, and they are the only ones who can change the lightbulb.
In addition to the lighthouse, YHONA is famous for the tidepools located on Cobble Beach. The mission statement of the BLM is to sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of America’s public lands for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations. However, Oregon is one of the few states that proudly offers open access to the public to any of the state’s beaches, and they are managed by Oregon State Parks and Recreation. Privately owned beaches do not exist in Oregon. Cobble Beach, located southeast of the lighthouse, is no exception to the rule. Even though it is located within BLM land, Oregon State Parks manages it.
Any person who has visited YHONA’s tide pools knows that one of their main rules is that collection of intertidal creatures is prohibited. It is intuitive to think that the US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) is responsible for managing the tide pool creatures, when in fact Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife is responsible for managing them. In addition and to make it even more complicated, the large rocks found in the intertidal zones, which are the home of thousands of nesting seabirds, are managed by USFWS.
Hundreds of Harbor Seals also live on the rocks in the area surrounding Cobble Beach, and in addition to the partnerships with all the agencies previously described, the BLM also grants access to NOAA. As odd as it might sound, NOAA is responsible for managing marine mammals, and Harbor Seals are one of the animal species that benefits from designated wildlife areas that restrict access to people.
As an EFTA intern, one of the most complicated questions a person has asked me is: who do you work for? Keeping in mind all the agencies working around YHONA, their varying interests and goals, their internal regulations and laws, I always answer that question by saying: I work for Environment for the Americas, a non-profit organization that partners with multiple agencies within the Department of the Interior.