Salish Sea survey: Geographic literacy enhancing natural resource management

An article published in the journal Society & Natural Resources in 2021 describes the results of a geographic literacy survey which shows residents of Washington and British Columbia are largely unfamiliar with the name Salish Sea. The authors discuss the implications of their findings for ecosystem recovery of the region.

Map of the Salish Sea & Surrounding Basin. Map: Stefan Freelan (CC BY-NC 2.0)
Map of the Salish Sea & Surrounding Basin. Map: Stefan Freelan (CC BY-NC 2.0)


The Salish Sea is a biodiverse, transboundary inland sea and marine ecosystem stretching from British Columbia, Canada into Washington State, United States. Home to nearly eight million people and charismatic
and keystone species, including three populations of orca, the ecosystem crosses multiple jurisdictions, communities, and watersheds, complicating conservation efforts. Geographic literacy, especially
place names, is important for managing Salish Sea recovery and further challenged by the newness of the Salish Sea as an officially recognized place name. We conducted a geographic literacy survey showing that residents are largely unfamiliar with the name Salish Sea. Such low geographic literacy has numerous negative
implications for communications, advocacy, outreach and the ability to address natural resource management and recovery of the Salish Sea at the level of the ecosystem. We offer potential implications for geographic literacy and other complementary geographic constructs within the wider field of natural resource management.


David J. Trimbach, Joseph K. Gaydos & Kelly Biedenweg (2021): Salish Sea Survey: Geographic Literacy Enhancing Natural Resource Management, Society & Natural Resources, DOI: 10.1080/08941920.2021.1936318

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About the Author: 
David J. Trimbach, Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR; Joseph K. Gaydos, The SeaDoc Society, University of California Davis, Orcas, WA; and Kelly Biedenweg, Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR