How We Work

Conservation Director Jon Wickersham explores a potential NCLC acquisition

We are all a part of Oregon’s coastal landscape:  people, wildlife, farmers, small businesses, developers, corporations, schools municipalities, and private landowners all coexist and depend on trees, plants, soil, water, roads, buildings and bridges. We are all active participants in the complex community of the coastal bioregion we live in, and we all share the responsibility of its stewardship now and in to the future.

At North Coast Land Conservancy, we focus our stewardship actions with a mission that holds conservation at its core. Whether we are working on land acquisition projects, facilitating habitat development or participating in outreach programs with the community, our feet remain firmly rooted to the land, as we look ahead to our goal:  a fully functioning coastal landscape where healthy communities of people, plants and wildlife all thrive.

NCLC Executive Director Katie Voelke and landowner Paul McCracken discuss the acquisition of Coal Creek Swamp near Nehalem

Whether NCLC is the eventual owner of a property or not, we see our role in helping to conserve and protect land on the Oregon Coast forever as being key to achieving our mission.

Fee title ownership: Land is either donated to NCLC by the landowner, or purchased outright by NCLC with funding coming from both private and public sources through individual donations and acquisition grants.

Easement: A property owner retains ownership of the land, but either donates or sells the development rights for the land to NCLC. A conservation easement is attached to the deed of the property so that even if ownership is transfered, the easement on the property remains in place.

When land is owned outright by a land trust such as NCLC, an easement is not necessary to protect the land in perpetuity. However, sometimes easements are still placed on lands we purchase as conditions of the acquisition. Easements on NCLC owned land are not held by NCLC, but by other organizations.

Fee Title Transfer: Sometimes it is determined that the best outcome for a property is for it to be in public ownership.  Yet it is not always possible for a public entity-such as a city or State or National Park-to facilitate the land acquisition themselves. In such cases, NCLC can step in to take care of the acquisition.  We then transfer ownership to the public entity when they are ready to receive it-sometimes this has taken up to a year, and sometimes we have owned a property for less than a minute!

Facilitation: NCLC provides facilitation services to partners working towards the conservation of a piece of land that will eventually end up in public ownership.  This can include helping to facilitate negotiations between partners, raising public awareness about the importance of conserving a piece of land, assisting with grant writing and acting in an advisory capacity for the partners involved.

For each property NCLC owns, our Stewardship Director conducts a baseline assessment of the land that includes descriptions of habitat and wildlife, maps and photo points. She then develops a stewardship plan for the property, and with the assistance of staff and stewardship committee volunteers with annual site visits and monitoring reports. For properties where more active ecological restoration is needed to control invasive plants and establish native habitat, we use a combination of grant funding and volunteer help to get the work done.

Easement properties are monitored annually to ensure that the conditions of the easement are being met.

NCLC uses three planning elements – preservation, passive ecological restoration, and active ecological restoration – to provide a framework for the stewardship planning and actions associated with the properties we hold in conservation.

Sometimes a piece of land already has it all- high functioning wildlife habitat, mature native plant structure, no invasive plant issues. When we acquire a gem like this, we know that the best thing we can do is to get out of the way and let nature continue on the path it has been taking for thousands of years. Protection involves securing those intact systems, overseeing their long-term stewardship, and where possible, working to connect them with a larger landscape to provide even greater function.

Passive Ecological Restoration includes simply halting activities that cause degradation or prevent recovery of an ecosystem, such as stopping grazing or water removal. This approach also includes a lot of patience- providing the time necessary for natural processes to cycle through a sequence of ecological succession. Nature is amazingly resiliant, and can often regain its balance best by being left alone to sort itself out.

After waiting through a period of passive restoration, if a site or system still remains in an ecological state that would not occur naturally, active intervention may be necessary. Such actions can include the reintroduction of beaver, removal of invasive plants, major planting of native species, or in some cases addition of in-stream structures.

Property examples:

Gardenia Wetland
Wild Ace Lake


Property examples:

Circle Creek
Thompson Creek