A partnership between two coastal land conservation groups has made possible conservation of Botts Marsh, the only saltmarsh that had been designated for development on Nehalem Bay. It marks the penultimate step of a nearly 40-year effort to conserve 30 acres of intertidal habitat between the bay and US 101 immediately north of Wheeler.
Botts Marsh had been targeted for conservation by Lower Nehalem Community Trust. In addition to gifts from individual donors, the Trust had secured funding from the Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, through its North American Wetlands Conservation Act grant program. Unexpected complexities had put the project at risk. North Coast Land Conservancy was able to step in as a bridge owner to buy time and lend support. The Conservancy secured a bridge loan from Craft3, a nonprofit community development lender. The Conservancy’s purchase of the property on March 12 allows Lower Nehalem Community Trust to complete its due diligence and buy the property from the Conservancy, which it expects to do by October.
“This beautiful marsh is one of the most well-known conservation opportunities on the North Coast,” said Katie Voelke, executive director of North Coast Land Conservancy. “It’s been in a controversial land use dispute for decades. NCLC has been involved and supportive of LNCT’s acquisition for many years and is relieved that our assistance now as a bridge owner will ultimately conserve this stunning place.”
“The Lower Nehalem Community Trust is grateful for North Coast Land Conservancy’s ability to step in at a critical time in the life of this acquisition,” said LNCT board member and co-founder Doug Firstbrook. “From 1000 Friends of Oregon to the late nature photographer Gary Braasch to these two land trusts, a large community has provided guidance to sustain this long-awaited LNCT conservation outcome.”
Botts Marsh provides habitat for more than 125 species of birds and is critical rearing habitat for chinook and coho salmon. Conservation of the marsh provides an unusual opportunity to protect an intact saltmarsh property adjacent to a coastal community. It will provide opportunities to educate the public about the importance of intertidal wetlands for a variety of ecological services, ranging from fish and wildlife protection, flood control, and carbon sequestration to help offset the effects of climate change.
Both North Coast Land Conservancy and Lower Nehalem Community Trust are private, nonprofit organizations dedicated to the preservation of native habitat on the Oregon Coast. Manzanita-based Lower Nehalem Community Trust conserves land exclusively in the lower Nehalem region. Its focus has been the most at-risk areas surrounding the Nehalem Bay estuary, which is the location of most of the 17 properties it owns or otherwise stewards.
Nationally accredited North Coast Land Conservancy, headquartered in Seaside, works to conserve and connect land from the Columbia River to northern Lincoln County by acquiring or otherwise managing lands for their habitat value. With a portfolio of more than 50 fee-title properties in addition to more than a dozen conservation easements, NCLC has completed more fee acquisitions in Oregon than any other local land trust, ranking it alongside The Nature Conservancy and The Trust for Public Lands for statewide conservation impact.
PHOTO: Botts Marsh. Photo by Lynn Levering Thomas