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Biodiversity of the Rainforest Reserve

What may look like an ordinary coastal forest is actually quite extraordinary. Within this evergreen realm thrives a complex community of plants and animals—from dragonflies to elk and eagles. Some of the plant and animal species found in the Rainforest Reserve live nowhere else on the planet.

Relics of an ancient volcanic event, these peaks—islands in the sky—were once isolated by an oceanic moat. That isolation gave rise to a unique landscape of incredible diversity, not unlike the famed Galapagos Islands. An effort is now underway to restore the wild roots of the Rainforest Reserve.

Complex Biodiversity Abounds at the Rainforest Reserve

Here are some of the unique and incredible plants and animals that call this area home:

Black Petaltail Dragonfly

Tanypteryx hageni

This rare insect species is older than the dinosaurs. Its larvae live in mud for five years before metamorphosing into a flying adult for just a few weeks.

Coho Salmon

Oncorhynchus kisutch

Coho salmon are the definitive coastal salmon species. Unlike those found elsewhere, the coho in these streams somehow thrive without benefit of an estuary.

Northern Pygmy Owl

Glaucidium gnoma

Unlike most owls, this little one is active in daylight. Listen for its slow, single toots in and around forest clearings.

Lichen on Basalt

Saxicolous lichen

Lichen helps create soil on basalt peaks. As lichen grows, it slowly breaks down minerals in the rock, causing the rocks to crumble.

Cope’s Giant Salamander

Dicamptodon copei

This salamander, found in Oregon only on a few peaks south of the Columbia River, requires cold, clear water from undisturbed streams to thrive.

Marbled Murrelet

Brachyramphus marmoratus

This robin-sized bird lives at sea but nests high on mossy tree branches. As old growth forests have disappeared, the murrelet’s numbers have plummeted.

Black Bear

Ursus americanus

Forest-dwelling black bears den in the Rainforest Reserve in caves created by fallen basalt boulders.


Filipendula occidentalis

This white wildflower grows only in the Coast Range just north and south of the Columbia River. Look for it in rocky, shady streambanks.

Pacific Silver Fir

Abies amabilis

Known for its purple cones, this high-elevation tree is common in the Cascades but grows in just a few spots in the northern Coast Range.

Olympic Onion

Allium crenulatum

Onion Peak is named for this little pink-and-white lily that grows on undisturbed moist, rocky slopes.

Chambers Paintbrush

Castilleja chambersii

You may think you’ve seen this bright scarlet wildflower elsewhere, but this species is found only within the Rainforest Reserve and a neighboring peak.


Lynx rufus

Smaller than a cougar and bigger than a house cat, the solitary bobcat hunts the forest at night, seeking small rodents, birds, and other prey.

The Rainforest Reserve is home to many endemic plant species found only in this corner of the world, including Chambers’ paintbrush, Saddle Mountain bittercress, frigid shootingstar, rosy lewisia, Hitchcock’s saxifrage, and queen-of-the-forest.

Download the full list of flora and fauna >>

Meet the Artist

Artist Sally Lackaff created the illustrations you see on this website: the landscapes and the life forms, large and small. Sally grew up in Cannon Beach, at the foot of the proposed Rainforest Reserve, and as a child traveled widely with her family. She has always had a fascination with the natural world and has long been drawn to observing and rendering the minute details of nature, which she attempts to incorporate into every piece of art she creates.

See more of Sally’s work >>