This Unique Place We Call Home

The mountain range that rose out of the Pacific Ocean millions of years ago has become a familiar backdrop to the coastal communities clustered at its feet. Standing between Cannon Beach and Manzanita along Oregon’s North Coast, this beloved basaltic ridgeline is well known to generations of residents and visitors alike. It figures in the stories of indigenous people, in seafaring captains’ logs, in works of art, and in countless photographs. The next time you catch a glimpse of Haystack Rock punctuating the shoreline, look up to the east and behold the future Rainforest Reserve.

Geology along the coastal edge

The unique ecosystem lying between Tillamook Head and Nehalem Bay is the product of geologic forces at work over millennia. From the slope of the mountains to the sediment in the streams, geology influences the habitats and, thus, plants and animals present in the watershed. Board member and geologist Tom Horning talks about what he sees when he looks at the Coastal Edge.


Fixtures of the northern Oregon Coast’s skyline, Onion Peak and the Angora Peak complex loom more than 3,000 feet above the shore, making this iconic ridgeline of the Rainforest Reserve visible north of Astoria to south of Tillamook Bay. Get a bird's-eye view via GOOGLE EARTH.

Mother Mountain—for the Rainforest Reserve

by Kim Stafford, Oregon Poet Laureate

Heaven, the old proverb says, is at your mother’s feet—
and here we are at the forest hem watching fog climb
through trees toward the queen’s crown peak,
hidden harvester of rain, alpine realm of silence
and starlight, home to bear cave, elk wallow,
cougar range, rare flowers brimming from persistent
seeps, trees shaggy with centuries on their blue ridge
where sister peaks layer shadows far.

So close the gate, let the alders usher in young fir,
cedar, hemlock, spruce, let the road become a path
for pilgrims seeking myriad mysteries, magic
not yet known, the black petal-tail dragonfly
born from fog-fed, moss-footed mud to soar
before our eyes from the time of legends.
Here we dwell at our mother’s feet, blessed
with bounty we protect, home to wild origin.

About the Poet

Kim Stafford grew up in Oregon, Iowa, Indiana, California, and Alaska, following his parents as they taught and traveled through the West. He is the author of a dozen books of poetry and prose, and the founding director of the Northwest Writing Institute at Lewis & Clark College, where he has taught since 1979. He holds a Ph.D. in medieval literature from the University of Oregon, and has worked as a printer, photographer, oral historian, editor, and visiting writer at a host of colleges and schools, and offered writing workshops in Italy, Scotland, and Bhutan. In 2018, he was appointed Oregon's next poet laureate.