Expanding our footprint in the Gearhart Fen

October 30, 2014
Gearhart Fen 2014_web

Gearhart Fen (photo by Neal Maine)

The Gearhart Fen is the largest contiguous wetland of its kind remaining on the Oregon Coast. And it is now the location of North Coast Land Conservancy’s largest expanse of conserved lands. On October 31, The Nature Conservancy’s Oregon office transferred a 466-acre conservation easement and ownership of 47.01 acres to NCLC. Together with two properties it already owned there, North Coast Land Conservancy is now the steward of some 533 contiguous acres of the fen—a type of quagmire that is similar to but, according to botanists, different from a bog.


Sundew (Drosera rotundifloria) amid sphagnum moss (photo by Noah Elhardt)

This dynamic ecosystem is a mosaic of several rare wetland community types associated with sphagnum moss. Carnivorous sundew plants grow on the fen’s moist ground, luring insects with their bright red coloring. Songbirds migrate through the fen’s stunted pines, and swallows bring their young and teach them to feed. Ospreys nest here, bald eagles perch in the trees, and waterfowl rest on patches of open water. A herd of elk calls it home. The Gearhart Fen is located in a dune swale south of Cullaby Lake in the southeastern corner of the Clatsop Plains, east of US 101.

These properties are part of  a 947-acre transfer of fee title land and conservation easements,  from The Nature Conservancy to North Coast Land Conservancy, completed on October 31. The Nature Conservancy in Oregon and NCLC have a long history of collaboration within the NCLC service area. These transfers ensure the protection of these ecologically rich areas while also allowing TNC to advance additional conservation priorities around the state.



  1. james thompson says:

    congratulations on consolidating the conservation easement and property under nclc’s stewardship! i am disappointed, however, to hear of nclc’s choice in renaming of the place. i’m all in favor of honoring the past, but replacing one european settler surname with another doesn’t seem to honor the much older and much maligned history of the clatsop people. surely a feature of the size of this fen would have had a clatsop name. i think it would be more appropriate to use the name the daughter of coboway (the tyee of the clatsop people), who married mr. gearhart in 1832, used to describe the place.

  2. Bonnie Henderson says:

    Yes; from the tool bar at the top of the page, click on “Protected Lands” and then on “Map of NCLC Protected Lands”: https://nclctrust.org/map/

  3. Terry Clifford says:

    Do you have a map of the various properties NCLC is responsible for? Thanks

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