AN ESTUARY PRESERVED 6 THINGS TO KNOW ABOUT OREGONS NEXT PARK
The Oregon State Department of Parks and Recreation will pay $1.8 million to purchase an 357-acre former farm on the Sand Lake estuary on the Oregon Coast in Tillamook County.
The estuary is among the last undisturbed sites along the coast. The deal, which includes a major assist from Ecotrust, helps the state meet its goal of securing sites that offer a unique glimpse into Oregon’s environmental culture.
Ecotrust brokered the deal by securing the property from the original sellers in May, knowing the state had a long-standing interest in preserving it.
The arrangement allowed the seller to dispose of the property quickly while giving the state time to complete the lengthy process it must follow to acquire real estate.
Chris Havel, spokesman for the parks system, shared how the deal came together and what will happen next.
Why did the Ecotrust buy it first instead of the state?
We do that mainly for speed. The state’s process can take a while because we have to get an appraisal and then have the appraisal reviewed. Ecotrust bought it because the state was always interested in the land and has been on and off for three decades. Until recently, there wasn’t a willing seller. When the owner decided to sell, Ecotrust stepped in. The state confirmed its interest and Ecotrust closed the deal on May 1.
Has this acquisition strategy been used before?
Yes. Our newest state park, Cottonwood Canyon State park on the John Day River, was first purchased by the Western Rivers Conservancy then sold to the state for similar reasons.
What is on the Sand Lake property now?
A small portion was used for grass but it hasn’t been an active farm for more than 50 years. The majority of it is wetlands with a few small fields. There is both saltwater and freshwater.
What makes the Sand Lake site special?
The state parks system isn’t that large. We have about 126,000 acres altogether. There are almost as many acres in Crater Lake National Park as there are in the state park system combined. What we do is look for these singular opportunities that capture the essence of the Oregon landscape. With the Sand Lake Estuary, you get a feeling that this is what the coast looked like before it was settled by Europeans. It’s a beautiful specimen.
Will it become a traditional park?
No. Our intent is that this will be a very basic site — with trails to get you across the landscape. There won’t be camping or other facilities. There are developed campgrounds in the area.
Does it have a name?
Not yet. We will look at local names, people who need to be honored, geographic features. The time will come for that and the (parks) commission will listen.