A River Runs Free Again

September 30, 2013

Necanicum Floodplain 1 webThanks to an unseasonably early storm–the tail end of a typhoon–that brought high winds and an impressive amount of rainfall to the north Oregon coast this past weekend, the highly anticipated reconnection of the Necanicum River to its historic floodplain  was witnessed by hundreds of happy north coasters as they drove up the now water-free stretch of Highway 101 just south of Seaside.

“I have had goose bumps all weekend–it is exhilarating to see the impossible happen:  a tamed river allowed to run free.” said NCLC Executive Director Katie Voelke. Voelke walked almost every part of the Circle Creek Habitat Reserve as her first task when she started as NCLC’s Land Steward more than eight years ago.  Asked to do a riparian inventory, Voelke was challenged to comprehend how to accomplish it, because it seemed that the entire 364-acre property was, at one time, the riparian zone.

necanicum floodplain 2 web

A floodplain restored! The Necanicum River flows out over hundreds of acres of former pasture to recharge the wetlands emerging there.

“People thought we were a little crazy inventorying over a hundred acres of pasture and calling it fish and wildlife habitat!” she laughs.  “And then this weekend I saw it, for real, the whole property is a riparian zone, in fact the property was the river.”

This aerial photo taken by NCLC board member Randall Henderson shows much of the berm removal project area mowed and ready for planting. This photo was taken in June of 2013.

This aerial photo taken by NCLC board member Randall Henderson shows much of the berm removal project area mowed and ready for planting. This photo was taken in June of 2013.

On the monday morning after the storm, Voelke received a phone call from Sharon Roper, owner of the Circle Creek Campground just across the river from the project site, visible in the image above.

“Katie, it’s better than I could have ever imagined,” she said.  “Thank you for
all that NCLC did to make this happen, it saved my business and it is so

“I feel so lucky to have been a part of this project,” Voelke says. ” NCLC, our dedicated staff, all our supporters, the county, ODOT, we did it – we reconnected a system- for the sake of the land and the people. It is beautiful.”


  1. Congratulations! This is such great news. Just over 2 years ago we purchased a property on the golf course…often we would see the blinking lights when Highway 101 was flooded. How wonderful to not have that problem any longer. Thank you~!!!

  2. Bonnie Henderson says:

    Sorry, I can’t help commenting here too: Such a win-win-win-win-win! I am so impressed with NCLC and its staff and leadership. This was a big project that took a lot of vision and work. It is thrilling to see it already paying off.

  3. Kathleen Sayce says:

    This is great news! I was wondering when the first good test of the new floodplain would come. To have it happen in early fall is excellent.

  4. John Mersereau says:

    Way to go all involved with the berm removal project!! I never thought I would be so excited awaiting the first flood….me and Noah-

  5. Susan Glarum says:

    I drove north to Seaside on Sunday, and was absolutely thrilled to see all the water standing in the fields west of the highway! It worked! It’s truly heartwarming to observe a huge project like this having desired results that are beneficial to people and wildlife alike. Great photos, by the way!

  6. Patricia Ciminello says:

    Thank you for ALL your hard and good work, wonderful!!

  7. Lorraine Ortiz says:

    Congratulations to all on successful completion of this inspiring model project. Thanks to Katie Voelke and everyone at NCLC for the vision and leadership to make it happen.

  8. dave bilstrom says:

    Nature trumps man. How wonderful!

  9. steve wascher says:

    Rainland Fly Casters should be proud, you see, it’s all about the water.