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Wowing New Rainforest Reserve on N. Oregon Coast Edges Closer to Reality

Published 08/01/21 at 7:20 PM PDT
By Andre' GW Hagestedt

Wowing New Rainforest Reserve on N. Oregon Coast Edges Closer to Reality

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(Manzanita, Oregon) – As you drive along the area between Nehalem Bay and southern Cannon Beach, or just wander a bit on foot, every time you look to the mountains rising to the east you're seeing something extraordinary without even knowing it. Those peaks – from about Oswald West State Park, several miles inland, to about Arch Cape – are a particularly interesting section of north Oregon coast rainforest, one where comparisons to the Galapagos Islands are in order due to its unique evolutionary aspects. (Above: near Nehalem, these peaks will be part of the proposed reserve)

Soon it will become even more engaging – and accessible. It's all part of the proposed Rainforest Reserve of the north Oregon coast, some 3,500 acres of forest land getting turned into a protected area, maintaining it for the good of the environment, preserving the uniquely-evolved wildlife here and its wild geology, and making it yet another wowing attraction of the Tillamook Coast region. [See more on the proposed rainforest preserve]

The North Coast Land Conservancy (NCLC) is spearheading the entire project, having met its initial fundraising goals of $10 million to purchase the land. Yet recent economic changes put a kink in that plan: the NCLC said rising timber prices recently shot up the purchase costs. The price was based on an appraisal done five years ago, but skyrocketing timber prices then found the NCLC almost two million dollars short of the purchase price.

Luckily, supporters helped fund the difference, but now there's the nitty gritty work still to be done.

The Angora Complex in the reserve, photo courtesy NCLC's Katherine Lacaze

“Fundraising is only half the battle,” the NCLC said in a recent release. “The other half is actually closing a sizable land transaction, especially one that involves several partners and grant funders.”

The group is working with EFM, a forestland investment management company that is representing Onion Peak Holdings, the landowner. Purchase finalization will take time, NCLC said. Then there is the behind-the-scenes workings of creating the conservation aspects of the forest, negotiating mineral rights, road access, etc.

In short, the NCLC has its hands full.

Why is this north Oregon coast reserve important? For one thing, there's a rather startling evolutionary / geologic aspect to all this.

“What may look like an ordinary coastal forest is actually quite extraordinary,” the NCLC explains on its website. “Within this evergreen realm thrives a complex community of plants and animals - from dragonflies to elk and eagles. Some of the plant and animal species found in the Rainforest Reserve live nowhere else on the planet.”

The peaks here are part of an extraordinarily ancient volcano complex, well beyond 50 million years old. They were at one time literal islands in the sky, jutting up from a vast ocean back then and completely isolated. Hence, many creatures and plants in the area evolved quite separate from what was then the mainland continent, tens of miles away at the time. This is why this part of the north Oregon coast is said to be a bit like the Galapagos Islands.

All those trees there not only help create and clean oxygen here on Earth, but they're an important part of the regional biosphere as well - not to mention all the facets of the regional watershed here.

“Since all these areas are interconnected not only with each other but also with Oswald West State Park and the Cape Falcon Marine Reserve, we hope to develop a cohesive and user-friendly access plan that provides clarity for the community and allows people to safely enjoy this beautiful land, while also protecting ecologically sensitive areas,” the NCLC said.

The Rainforest Reserve is edging closer to being a reality, but it will still take some time. The group said it is looking forward to making that official announcement.

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Andre' GW Hagestedt is editor, owner and primary photographer / videographer of Oregon Coast Beach Connection, an online publication that sees nearly 1 million pageviews per month. He is also author of several books about the coast.

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