Almost two decades ago, a 60-acre dairy farm in Nehalem went up for sale. The farm – which stretched all the way to Nehalem Bay – included an old-fashioned barn and had always been a haven for native wildlife who found refuge in the forested hills and pasture land.
Not wanting the fate of these piece of property to fall in the wrong hands, five friends decided to purchase the former dairy farm and lease it to the Lower Nehalem Community Trust for habitat restoration. In 2005, the Trust purchased the farm.
Since then, the Trust has purchased more than 250 additional acres to fulfill their mission of preserving land and nurturing conservation values through partnerships.
For 13 years, the Trust has continued to improve and restore Alder Creek Farm by adding a one-acre community garden that helps feed the local food bank; a greenhouse; ethnobotanical trail; native plant nursery and of course turning the more-than-50 acres into a wildlife sanctuary. Over the last decade the Trust and their volunteers have restored historic riparian vegetation and wetland habitats and removed invasive plants to allow for the introduction of native species. They’ve also purchased the several acres adjacent to the farm that includes the original farm house in order to create an educational learning center.
This summer, the Lower Nehalem Community Trust is inviting guests out to the farm to experience its plunder in a number of different ways. From getting your hands dirty in the garden to taking a walk after dusk to discover the different species of moths, each event highlights a different and important aspect of the farm.
“We want people to come experience Alder Creek Farm in person,” said Trust Board Member Roxanne Balmer. “We encourage people to come out here and go for a walk, go birding, and experience this place in a respectful way. It’s what it’s here for.”
Balmer said each of these free education events are a way to get people involved and invested in Alder Creek Farm and the work that the Trust does, as well as teach them new ways to enjoy the outdoors and the importance of conservation.
Upcoming events include:
•Sustainable Earth Friendly Gardening: July 28, 10 a.m. – Noon Experience a taste of gardening at beautiful Alder Creek Farm & Wildlife Sanctuary, and join volunteers for a morning working in the organic community garden. Learn about growing food in our unique climate and their approach to gardening together and sharing our harvest with the North County Food Bank. The community garden is all organic for a responsible and sustainable approach to protect our environment and watershed.
•Moth Talk & Viewing: July 28 from 8 – 10 p.m. Join naturalist Jim Johnson for a rare evening viewing moths under the stars at Alder Creek Farm. Jim will demonstrate how to safely attract, trap, document, and release moths. What draws a moth to flame? How can you tell a butterfly from a moth? Where do moths go during the day? Come see a dazzling array of local moths and learn about the secret life of these mysterious visitors. Jim will also discuss crowd-sourcing ecological data online, and he’ll answer questions about how to get started as a citizen scientist on websites like iNaturalist and eBird.
•Dragonflies of Alder Creek Farm: July 28 from 12:30 – 2 p.m. Join naturalist Jim Johnson as he shares his wealth of information and knowledge regarding odonoates, and shares tips and tricks on how to spot and identify them. Learn how dragonflies find a mate, how they’re able to fly so fast (and forward and backward!), and how they’ve evolved over the centuries. Find out how to attract these creatures to your yard, and why you want to. Then, take a tour of Alder Creek Farm in search of dragonflies and damselflies that call the Farm home. Wear comfortable shoes and be prepared to walk in tall grass.
•Alder Creek Farm & Nehalem Teaching Trail: Aug. 11 from 10 a.m. – 1 p.m. Enjoy a walking tour of the wildlife refuge and natural area of Alder Creek Farm including the Community Garden, a developing Teaching Trail, and the Farm’s diverse wildlife habitats; Alder Creek where otter and beaver live, the uplands and Sorrel Woods area where hawks soar, and the grassy meadow and pond where elk roam and blue heron hunt. We will discuss the Farm’s unusual ecosystem and LNCT’s restoration progress, goals, and objectives.
•Emerald Necklace Tour: Aug. 18 10 a.m. – 1 p.m. Begin at Alder Creek Farm for a tour of LNCT’s conservation lands along Nehalem Bay and the scenic north edge. This string of conservation parcels is dubbed the emerald necklace because it has beaded together some amazing natural habitats to protect important wetlands, vistas, green space, and waterways. The last stop on the tour is Elk Meadows, a Manzanita nature park featuring a winding trail, stands of alder trees, and a sweet wetlands.
•Beaver Trails Tour: Aug. 18 from 9 a.m. – Noon Connecting the beauty of beavers and their role as engineers in natural landscapes, Lower Nehalem Watershed Council and community partners will lead participants on a tour of beaver habitat sites throughout the Nehalem Watershed. The tour will stop at 2 – 4 locations where participants will be able to see different examples of active and historical beaver activity. Alix Lee, coordinator for the Lower Nehalem Watershed Council will lead the tour and provide narrative on beaver ecology, history and importance for maintaining healthy ecosystems on the North Coast.
Each of these free events are part of the Explore Nature series of hikes, walks, paddles and outdoor adventures. Hosted by a consortium of volunteer community and non-profit organizations, these meaningful nature-based experiences highlight the unique beauty of Tillamook County and the work being done to preserve and conserve the area’s natural resources and natural resource-based economy. You can register for one, or all, at explorenaturetilllamookcoast.com.
The Explore Nature Series events are paid for in part by the Economic Development Council of Tillamook County, Visit Tillamook Coast, and the Travel Oregon Forever Fund. For more information, or to join in on the fun, visit www.explorenaturetillamookcoast.com