By Laura Swanson, Editor, Tillamook County Pioneer
The Monday morning announcement on the Kilchis Point Reserve Facebook page was greeted with immediate reactions of anger, disbelief and sadness. The beloved 200-acre nature preserve had suffered one of the most destructive acts of vandalism to date. According to Tillamook County Pioneer Museum director Gary Albright, “Over the past year there have been several different incidences of vandalism, but nothing like the damage done sometime in the late evening on Sunday August 6th.” He continued, “Most of the damage was low-scale.” The Pioneer Museum owns and manages the preserve with the help of volunteers and donations that support the construction of the benches, the bird watching station, trail-building and maintenance. When Kilchis Point is attacked, the entire community, Bay City and throughout Tillamook County deeply feel the violation. Albright explained, “This is a sacred place, that has evolved because of the blood, sweat and tears of so many in the community, and to have someone do something like this … when I viewed the damage, I realized that I had reached another level of anger.”
Albright and an amazing group of kids from the Oregon Youth Conservation Corps (OYCC) immediately set to work to repair the damage. “Thank goodness for those kids – Brendan, Ian, Angel, Nicole, Hannah and Christian – they worked their asses off, and prevented me from having another heart attack,” added Albright. “These kids, some of them had never swung a hammer, just jumped right in and tackled the project. And visitors to the Reserve after we’d repaired it, noted that they couldn’t even see the damage.”
But the damage had indeed been done … A $2,500 reward is being offered by the Tillamook County Pioneer Museum for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person or persons who did this damage. If you have credible evidence, please contact Gary Albright at the Tillamook County Pioneer Museum (503.842.4553). Your name and information will be kept confidential.
“We do have cameras in the area, but from the footage it is difficult get a positive ID, and the wind, moving trees and other movement quickly fill the SIM cards,” said Albright. “And we’ve had cameras stolen and damaged as well. We have cameras on the cameras,” he chuckled. “They have damaged the benches, tried to remove the dedication plaques, stomped on signs, and other vandalism that I’d call just annoying. But this latest incident was more destructive, apocalyptic.”
Through the investigation, the time frame has been narrowed of when the damage occurred, and there are several suspects that live within a quarter mile of Kilchis Point Reserve. “These are known regulars that have been confrontational in the past,” said Albright. “They may have some mental issues, and are angry, but that’s no excuse for such destructive damage.”
Many comments on Facebook were quick to blame “the kids”, but it’s these kids who have helped build and maintain the trails. “Please don’t jump to conclusions and vilify kids,” said Albright. “It was kids from OYCC that helped repair the damage, and it’s the kids that bring the heart and soul to this place. Kilchis Point is here for this generation of kids and for the next.” Regardless of the age of the people that did this damage, the clear message is that our entire community will stand up to protect this place and will not tolerate such disrespectful destruction. “Every time something happens, I hope it will be the last time, maybe now, with the conviction of the person(s) who did this, it will be,” noted Albright.
For more information about Kilchis Point Reserve, go to http://kilchispoint.wordpress.com
Kilchis Point Reserve is a 200 acre protected area along Tillamook Bay in Bay City, Oregon. There is over 1.3 miles of interpretive hiking trail. The Tillamook County Pioneer Museum (TCPM) owns, protects, maintains, and holds this land in the public trust. The history at Kilchis Point is long, rich and well documented. There are three sections of interpretive trails that will highlight Flora and Fauna, Native American Heritage, and Pioneer Settlement.
An interpretive kiosk, benches, arbor, and native garden are installed at the Trailhead. We encourage everyone to stop by and check it out! The parking area and trailhead are located at the corner of Warren and Spruce Streets in Bay City, Oregon. The first section of trail, the Trailhead Loop, is paved with pavers and has interpretive trail signs that highlight the Native American presence in the area, the first settlers in the Tillamook area, and common flora and fauna one will see along the trails.