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ACCESS: guided only

Type of Project: Habitat Reserve

Do you recall the great sea of yellow Scotch broom that used to blaze west of U.S. Highway 101 between Warrenton and Gearhart? It took 15 years, a succession of landowners, tremendous patience and some serious tractor work, but 117 acres of the Clatsop Plains is now nearly broom-free and returning to the coastal prairie habitat that characterized these dunes for millennia.

Reed Ranch had long been a priority for conservation due to the habitat it provided to the threatened Oregon silverspot butterfly. When planning began in 2008 for West Lake Estates subdivision, the opportunity arose to preserve a large, contiguous stretch of open space here, and North Coast Land Conservancy was pleased to take on conservation of this land.

Eradicating 100-plus acres of mature Scotch broom was not for the faint-hearted, but a combination of manual removal and mowing has opened up the historic prairie once again. Thanks to ambitious replanting of native species, wetland scrub-shrub habitat is becoming reestablished, providing nesting sites for migratory birds and contributing to the diet of deer and elk that also graze the preserve’s open grassland. Reed Ranch is emerging as a wildlife refuge linking conservation efforts all the way from Fort Stevens State Park to the Necanicum Estuary.