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Lured back by the view from Neahkahnie

Among NCLC’s many excellent photographers, Carolyn Propst stands out. Since moving to Cannon Beach in 2011 (after “discovering” the town 25 years earlier), Carolyn has become an active NCLC volunteer, archiving and organizing our photographs and shooting NCLC events herself (among her many contributions). It turns out that she’s been an avid photographer all her life; only since retiring from the NASA Space Shuttle Program has she had time to seriously pursue photography, capturing the beauty of the coastal environment as well as documenting events for NCLC.

Here are a few of our favorite people pictures Carolyn took in 2017 (and two we love from 2015). Scroll down to read more about this extraordinary NCLC volunteer.

JULY: NCLC volunteer Sue Friddell of Issaquah, WA, and Cannon Beach pauses from birdwatching on an On the Land outing at the Seaside Mill Ponds.


AUGUST: Stewardship Director Melissa Reich leads a group stroll on the Wetlands Walk during the Summer Picnic at the Barn.


SEPTEMBER: CoastWalk Oregon hikers stop to visit with Oswald West and his horse, Fred the Freak, at the start of Day One.


SEPTEMBER: All smiles at the end of Day One, CoastWalk Oregon.


SEPTEMBER: Jenny McGregor and Mary Neerhout pause above Short Sand Beach on Day Two, CoastWalk Oregon.


DECEMBER: NCLC board member Betsy Ayres and her daughter, Meadow Davis, at the Conservation Christmas Trees event at Circle Creek Conservation Center.


SUMMER 2015: On the Land guide Mike Patterson traipses through the Seaside Mill Ponds, net at the ready.


SUMMER 2015: Jason and Brandy Hussa and their son, Toby, discovering what lies beneath the surface of the Seaside Mill Ponds.


Carolyn at the navigation console during the 2008 flight of the space shuttle Discovery to the International Space Station.

My father was a serious amateur photographer; we had a darkroom in my childhood home. This was my introduction to photography and is where I caught the photo bug.

As I was nearing completion of college, I had yet to visit any part of the United States west of the Mississippi River. So I took the summer of 1986 to take the “grand tour” of the country in my Chevette. I packed up my camping gear and my 35mm SLR camera, and I was on the road for three months. That road trip solidified my love of photography and led me to discover the beauty of the wild and natural areas of this country. I still remember standing at the Neahkahnie Mountain pullout along US 101, looking south toward Manzanita at the beach stretching seemingly endlessly to where the Nehalem River meets the Pacific, taking that iconic picture and hoping I would return there someday.

But my career led me instead to Texas. I spent almost 20 years in a suburb of Houston working as a navigation flight controller with the NASA Space Shuttle Program. It was a special experience to be part of the space program: supporting the launch and subsequent servicing of the Hubble Space Telescope, numerous life science flights, earth- and space-observation flights, and the construction of the International Space Station. But when the shuttle program ended, I took the opportunity to make a move to the northern Oregon Coast. One of the first things I did when I got here was to return to that pullout along Neahkahnie Mountain to enjoy that vista again, essentially unchanged in the 25 years since I had first visited.

Carolyn’s photo of the view south from Neahkahnie Mountain, December 2011.

My first summer in Oregon was 2012, and I searched for ways to experience the coastal environment. That is when I discovered North Coast Land Conservancy. I began by joining several On The Land walks that first summer, and I was hooked on NCLCs mission of preserving the Oregon Coast … forever!

The following spring I started volunteering with NCLC, first by stuffing envelopes for newsletter mailings. Soon I was helping in the office, “caboosing” for On The Land outings, and serving as a site steward for NCLC’S Shorewood Wetland Habitat Reserve in Cannon Beach. That’s when it dawned on me that I could help support NCLC with my photography. As the adage goes, “A picture is worth a thousand words.” I hope my photos of the beautiful Oregon coast, the lands NCLC has conserved, and the people who enjoy the land will help to advance the land trust’s mission.

I’m a Sustaining Steward of NCLC and will continue to volunteer, playing my small part in preserving the Oregon Coast … forever.

—Carolyn Propst



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