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.
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.