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After 10 Years, Property on Whale Cove is Conserved

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIn February 2005 North Coast Land Conservancy began working with landowners surrounding Whale Cove, south of Depoe Bay in Lincoln County, to conserve 13.97 acres of sea cliffs and coastal forest surrounding the pristine cove. On Dec. 14, 2014, that land was finally conserved as part of Oregon Islands National Wildlife Refuge. Throughout that ten-year process NCLC played a pivotal role, bringing together state and federal officials with private landowners and securing funding to protect the edge of what one marine scientist characterizes as “the only virgin cove in Oregon.”

After a housing development was attempted and failed at the site in 2005, Neal Maine—then NCLC’s executive director—began working with representatives from Oregon State Parks, state and federal highway agencies, the US Fish and Wildlife Service, and Whale Cove-area homeowners to explore ways to protect this piece of coastline from the ocean to the upland forest. One of those homeowners—the Bryce Buchanan family—stepped in and bought the property, and they began working with NCLC to design a conservation acquisition plan. The property was valued at $2.25 million; the Buchanans accepted $1.1 million for it, in effect making a $1.15 million donation to conserve the land.


Harbor seals hauled out in Whale Cove

“Seldom do you find an Oregon citizen like Bryce who not only intentionally buys land for the purpose of conservation, but then has the patience and fortitude to work for more than a decade with multiple government agencies to achieve the goal of preservation,” Neal said.

In addition to negotiating a deal with the Buchanans, North Coast Land Conservancy secured $450,000 in funding from Oregon State Parks and $650,000 in federal scenic byway funding.

“Whale Cove has a natural complexity to it that is rare and almost magical,” said NCLC Executive Director Katie Voelke. “It was a pleasure to work with the Buchanans and our partners to make this a federally protected treasure.”

The US Fish and Wildlife Service agreed to take ownership of the property and manage the site in perpetuity for its habitat value. State regulations already prohibit the harvest of any kind of marine life in Whale Cove. The scenic cove can be viewed from nearby Rocky Creek State Park and US Highway 101.


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