Facilitation Spotlight: Arch Cape Community Forest

July 20, 2022

Photo: Ben Hayes


Arch Cape Forest Becomes Part of Conservation Corridor on the Oregon Coast


In June, the Arch Cape Domestic Water Supply District took a major step forward in connecting the community to its drinking-water source by purchasing approximately 1,500 acres of surrounding forestland. The acquisition lays the foundation for creating the Arch Cape Community Forest.

This was no small accomplishment, coming at the conclusion of several years of planning, raising funds and collecting input from community members and other stakeholders. The district secured $5.5 million in federal funding, $250,000 in Clatsop County funding, and $300,000 in community contributions to make the purchase possible.

On its own, this project will permanently protect the source of Arch Cape’s drinking water, from headwaters to tap. A healthy forest with diverse streamside vegetation is vital to holding soil in place, preventing erosion, and improving downstream water quality.

The project also enables the district to manage the watershed primarily for the protection of the water while “providing potential conservation, recreation and economic benefits,” according to district manager Phil Chick. Lastly, it is part of a nationwide movement for communities to have more agency in how their local watersheds and drinking-water sources are managed and cared for.

However, the Arch Cape Forest is also part of a larger story of connectivity unfolding on the northern Oregon Coast. The forestland—which was acquired from Ecotrust Forests II LLC on June 9—is adjacent to North Coast Land Conservancy’s 3,500-acre Rainforest Reserve, along with Oswald West State Park and the Cape Falcon Marine Reserve. Collectively, they create a roughly 32-square-mile conservation corridor that stretches from the summits of 3,000-foot peaks within the Oregon Coast Range to Short Sand Beach and the sandy seabed and rocky reefs of the nearshore ocean. This type of protected land-to-sea corridor is unmatched in the state of Oregon.


The Arch Cape Forest is adjacent to NCLC’s Rainforest Reserve.


In fact, the Rainforest Reserve and Arch Cape Forest—while two unique projects—arose from a shared vision of protecting coastal rainforest and simultaneously sustaining a high quality of life for people, plants and wildlife. Both entities have been working for several years to advance this shared vision through their individual yet interconnected projects.

“It was such an honor to work with the district, providing support services and our expertise with fundraising, grant writing, and transactional due diligence,” NCLC Executive Director Katie Voelke said. NCLC also used the land value of a portion of the Rainforest Reserve as an in-kind match to help meet requirements of the Forest Legacy grants.

This is an example of one of NCLC’s core conservation strategies: facilitation. The organization provides services to partners working toward 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.

“We can bring our skills and expertise to the table and make community conservation happen, even if we are not the ultimate owner,” Associate Director Jon Wickersham says. “We’ve done this with state and national parks, the cities of Seaside and Cannon Beach, and now with Arch Cape Water District.”

In the case of the Arch Cape Forest, the collaboration stretched beyond the water district and NCLC. Sustainable Northwest, a regional nonprofit, provided strategic planning and project management to the core group of local volunteers and leaders over the course of the five-year campaign.

Meanwhile, the water district is working with NCLC and the Nuveen Natural Capital property management staff at Lewis & Clark Timberlands’ Gearhart office—with support from consulting planners at the NPS Rivers Trails and Conservation Assistance Program—to outline a thoughtful and balanced approach to public access that will allow people to enjoy the natural beauty of the forest while preserving its ecological value.

A broad public stakeholder engagement process kicked off in July.


  1. John says:

    It is good to see you are continuing the much needed push back against the corrupt northwest timber industry and their paid off politicians.
    When I am driving south on 101 toward Cape Falcon and Short Sands coming down the slope near the park one can see the vindictive nature of the timber industry in the area.
    They have managed to kill off half a hillside of old growth forest in full view of the highway directly across from the park. I used to think that hill was part of the park and it was a pleasant and encouraging sight coming into the area.
    But the timber industry is determined to make their own statement and are completely callous to the destruction they incur. They are beginning to get worried and are sticking their middle finger at us with highly visible clear cuts like this. I have seen more and more of this in your face destruction throughout Oregon and Washington
    Recent statistics show that Oregon is far less dependent on timber economically than even ten years ago. More timber is going overseas to make up the industries shortfalls. Japan and China for instance and much of Europe are preserving their forests at the expense of ours and of course central and south Americas and parts of Asia.
    Radical conservation groups are screaming big oil and coal and other sources of “dirty” energy and forcing everyone to live off the grid while in my mind deforestation and pollution from big tech ( battery production and disposal) are the greatest threats.
    The timber industry will suffer in the coming years as viable alternative fibers will come into play via biotechnology and other new technologies. They will retaliate by ramping up production the same way they did on the east coast to the oak forests there when the end was in sight of their free for all.
    We are going to push back harder with technology and fund raising.
    Sooner or later things will really get rolling. Look what the Redwoods League is doing in northern California and how they have suddenly “taken off” and have acquired parcel after parcel of prime connecting forests in just the last few years.
    It can happen here. Never ever give up even for a minute. Always get to the end of the trail no matter the circumstances. A big reward could be just around the corner

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