Type of Project: Conservation Easement
A conservation easement gave Stephen and Lizzy the assurance that even after they are gone, the forested beauty of Waterwood will live on for generations to come. Waterwood is the landowners’ name for their hand-built three-generation homestead above the Little Nestucca River, adjacent to Siuslaw National Forest. The spruce-and-hemlock forest hosts a wealth of wildlife, including a winter steelhead run. A conservation easement will keep the land this family loves forever undeveloped.
History of Waterwood Easement
In the fall of 1978, Stephen and Lizzie Murdock bought 160 acres of forested hillside above the Little Nestucca River on the north-central Oregon coast and named it Waterwood. They built a sustainable, off-the-grid home that they’ve lived in and refined ever since. Two of their four children were born on the land, as were their two grandchildren.
Located in the Nestucca River valley, and adjoining the almost 700 acres of Siuslaw National Forest, Waterwood is primarily a second-growth forest dominated by Sitka spruce trees, with healthy populations of western hemlock and red alder. Scattered groupings of majestic, old-growth Sitka spruce trees are found here as well. Three major perennial streams run through the property, one of which hosts a run of winter steelhead.
Thanks to 35 years of the Murdock family’s careful stewardship, native shrubs and understory plants such as salmonberry, red elderberry, vine maple, red huckleberry, fool’s huckleberry, wood sorrel, sword fern, deer fern, California brome, and wood rush grow in abundance throughout the property. The diverse forest ecosystem provides ample food and habitat for many wildlife species; the Murdocks have observed elk, deer, bear, cougar, fox and beavers on the land, as well as owls (both the barred and the barn owl), stellar’s jays, American robins, winter wrens and hummingbirds.