In 1987, Congress established the National Estuary Program (NEP) as part of the Clean Water Act. The NEP’s mission is to protect and restore the health of estuaries while supporting economic and recreational activities. In April 1992, Oregon Governor Barbara Roberts nominated Tillamook Bay to the National Estuary Program (NEP). In her nomination, the Governor characterized Tillamook Bay as representative of the bays along the Pacific Northwest coast because it provided a vital resource to the local and regional economies, and supported diverse aquatic resources including anadromous fish, shellfish, and waterfowl. In 1994, we joined 27 other National Estuary Projects around the United States in developing and implementing science- based, community-supported management plans. With issues like high bacteria concentrations affecting the shellfish industry and recreational use of the rivers and bay, sedimentation, declining salmon and trout populations due to loss of key habitats, and flooding, the Tillamook Bay aligned well with the intentions of the National Estuary Program. We quickly realized the need to include all Tillamook County estuaries and watersheds in its mission and focus area because many of the same issues are found throughout the county. Linked by proximity, the estuaries share similar challenges and opportunities yet retain their unique characteristics because of the communities and land use that surround and nourish them.
In the Spring of 2002, we re-organized to become a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization and changed our name to the Tillamook Estuaries Partnership (TEP) to reflect the broadened geographic scope of work.
Today our focus is on clean water, healthy habitats, abundant wildlife, and vibrant communities.