TILLAMOOK COUNTY WELLNESS: Get Outside and Explore Nature

The Explore Nature Series is a collaboration of environmental organizations working together to provide meaningful, nature-based events that showcase the uniqueness of Tillamook County and highlight the work being done to conserve the area’s natural resources, restore biodiversity, and preserve natural-resource based industries.

The partner organizations host individual events throughout the year that encourage people to get outside, explore new areas, and ideally learn something new.

The idea is simple: Explore Nature Series partners believe if we can get people to fall in love with the area, they will be inspired to help protect and conserve it. Whether that means utilizing more sustainable practices when digging clams  in Netarts Bay, picking up trash along the beaches while visiting, or spending time in the woods learning how the various ecosystems work together, Explore Nature Series events all share this common theme of showcasing the Tillamook Coast in a way that encourages people to enjoy it respectfully.

When the pandemic hit in 2020, the Explore Nature Series partners had to pivot and start offering more virtual opportunities as a way to keep participants and the community safe. However, being outside is a large part of the Explore Nature Series, and this year you can find many virtual, educational events being offered with an outdoor element that can be done on your own time.

In April, Explore Nature Series partners Friends of Cape Falcon Marine Reserve hosted virtual Snowy Plover Patrol Training with Portland Audobon. The goal of these trainings is to give people the tools and information necessary to go out and monitor for Snowy Plovers on local beaches. Interested volunteers can sign up to monitor for Snowy Plovers twice a month, for 2-4 hours a time, from April through the end of the summer. Depending on the beach, this can require a good amount of walking to where birds might be nesting, and spending time outdoors watching – and waiting. These are activities that can be done on your own time, and lend themselves well to social distancing. Monitoring volunteers have been vital in keeping tabs on how well this endangered shore bird is thriving and surviving.

If you are interested in bird monitoring, the Friends of Cape Falcon Marine Reserve are hosting several more virtual trainings this spring and summer to coach volunteers to survey for additional coastal birds on their own time, including Brown Pelicans on April 29th, and Black Oystercatchers on May 5th and 8th. The goal of these surveys is to help define the distribution and abundance of Brown Pelicans and Black Oystercatchers and track shifts in population structure.

Then, on June 5th is another Explore Nature Series Event: Seabird Monitor Colony Training.

Portland Audubon and partners are monitoring seabird nesting colonies adjacent to the Cape Falcon Marine Reserve in order to better understand how seabirds may respond to the new protections. Monitoring is done weekly starting in June through August, and a typical monitoring session is about two hours in the morning.

Another Explore Nature Series partner, The Friends of Netarts Bay WEBS, is hosting Beach Cleanup Bingo during the months of April and May. The goal is to encourage individuals and people living in the same household to go outside and help clean up the beaches around Netarts – and win prizes! You can download a bingo card at netartsbaywebs.org. Each square represents something you might find on the beach. If you get five in a row – that’s a bingo! Every bingo is eligible to win a prize, and winners will be announced at the end of each month. Beach Cleanup Bingo is a great way to get people outside safely, and help take care of the beaches.

You can also join WEBS on May 6 for a virtual presentation ‘Sharks of the Oregon Coast.’ Shift your perspective from fear to inspiration as you get to know and understand these creatures better.

For a full list of upcoming Explore Nature Series events and how to register, visit explorenaturetillamookcoast.com. Be sure to follow Explore Nature Tillamook Coast on Facebook and Instagram to keep up with all the latest events.

For more local health and wellness information, follow Tillamook County Wellness on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.