The importance of connectivity is on full display in the proposed Rainforest Reserve, which will become part of a larger conservation corridor along the Coastal Edge where plants and wildlife can thrive.
When North Coast Land Conservancy initially developed its campaign to acquire the proposed Rainforest Reserve, we set an initial fundraising goal of $10 million.
That figure was based on the estimated value of approximately 3,500 acres of temperate rainforest, as well as projected expenses over the five-year campaign and setting aside about $2 million for long-term stewardship in order to care for the land. The final purchase price for the land was to be determined, per our purchase and sales agreement with the landowner, by appraisal within 12 months of the purchase date.
Fast forward to this winter. Because of record-high lumber prices—there’s been a roughly 200 percent increase on the world market—a recent appraisal of the property produced a significantly higher figure than estimated nearly five years ago. As a result, we had to increase our fundraising goal to $11.8 million.
With the help of more than 1,000 donors, we are thrilled to report that we have met this fundraising goal—a mammoth accomplishment that can be chalked up to incredible community support. After all, this is a project that is designed to benefit not only the Oregon Coast but the Earth for generations to come.
So, the project is over, right? We know our supporters want to celebrate the completion of this amazing project, and we will. But it’s not time yet.
Fundraising is only half the battle. The other half is actually closing a sizable land transaction, especially one that involves several partners and grant funders.
Currently, the land is managed by EFM, a forestland investment management company, on behalf of Onion Peak Holdings, the landowner. NCLC has been in agreement with EFM about acquisition of the property since 2016, but much of the transaction work is time-sensitive and cannot be completed years ahead of time.
Consequently, there’s still much work to be completed: mineral rights to be acquired; road access agreements to negotiate; appraisals and deeds to be reviewed and approved by multiple landowners and multiple funding entities, all with their unique criteria; management plans to be approved; and more.
In addition, we are working with a team of conservation and recreation specialists from the National Park Service, along with adjacent property owners, to develop the public access plan for the Rainforest Reserve. The core planning team includes GreenWood Resources, which owns much of the timberland surrounding the reserve, and the Arch Cape Water District, which has plans to establish a community forest adjacent to the reserve. This planning process has just begun, and it will involve many stakeholders and community members in the year to come. Placing conservation as the primary goal for the Rainforest Reserve, while simultaneously allowing appropriate public access, is a tricky business and requires ample expertise, insight and local knowledge. We expect this final plan to be completed by the end of 2022.
Since all these areas are interconnected not only with each other but also with Oswald West State Park and the Cape Falcon Marine Reserve, we hope to develop a cohesive and user-friendly access plan that provides clarity for the community and allows people to safely enjoy this beautiful land, while also protecting ecologically sensitive areas.
Once the Rainforest Reserve purchase is complete, you all will be the first to know. We have plans for a wonderful celebration that is worth waiting on pins and needles for! Stay tuned for more updates in the weeks to come.