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Forested coastal wetland conserved in Tillamook County


A once-and-future western redcedar swamp is part of North Coast Land Conservancy’s newest habitat reserve, a mixture of coastal estuary and adjacent freshwater wetlands located on the edge of Sand Lake in Tillamook County. NCLC finalized acquisition of the 167-acre property in mid-May.

“Have you ever been canoeing in a forest and come upon a sea lion? That’s how special Sand Lake is,” NCLC Executive Director Katie Voelke said. “It’s a rare place where forest and sea not only meet but blend.”

Sand Lake, located 10 miles south of Tillamook, is an unusual and unusually pristine estuary. Defined by the sandbar at its mouth, Sand Lake has minimal agricultural or commercial development around it. As a result, out of 36 estuaries on the Oregon Coast, only Sand Lake still hosts a diverse mix of native plant communities, including Sitka spruce, creek dogwood, and Hooker willow, with remnants of what was once a large western redcedar swamp. The property was logged, but several large cedar trees were left behind to serve as cones sources as well as habitat, according to Oregon Parks and Recreation Department Stewardship Manager Jim Morgan. “It is very encouraging to see how well the naturally recruited young cedar trees are doing,” Morgan said. “It is well on its way to becoming one of the largest cedar swamps in coastal Oregon.” OPRD provided in-kind support to match grant funding from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

The acquisition protects a total of 4.7 miles of salmon-bearing streams that connect to an additional 4 stream-miles on adjacent land already conserved by OPRD, the U.S. Forest Service and The Nature Conservancy. At least 42 species of birds, from rufous hummingbirds to bald eagles, have been identified on the Sand Land property. Read the property description.

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