This Summer, visitors to the Oregon coast will be in for a treat: Sitka Sedge will officially open to guests on Saturday, June 2. The park, located near Cape Lookout State Park and Cape Kiwanda State Natural Area, showcases one of the Oregon’s last intact estuaries. Even with the addition of a trail system, parking lot, and day use area, the park will remain a low-impact opportunity for visitors to enjoy the beauty of this remarkable natural system.
Sitka Sedge, so named for the native grass-like plants found in pockets throughout the marshlands, is a recent bright spot in Ecotrust’s history as well. In 2014, we were able to purchase Sitka Sedge, formerly Sand Lake, which includes the adjacent Beltz Farm property, holding this coastal gem until Oregon State Parks was able to use voter-dedicated Oregon Lottery funds and a National Coastal Wetlands Conservation grant from the U.S. Forest Service to secure purchase and protect it from development in perpetuity.
Sitka Sedge is in the traditional territory of the Nestucca group of Tillamook Indians, an area that was originally included within the Siletz Reservation boundaries from 1855-75. The Nestucca Tillamooks are now part of the Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians. In addition, the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde claim cultural affiliation to the area.
The park, situated within the Sand Lake watershed, holds important markers for natural systems. It could support coastal cutthroat trout, coho salmon, chum salmon, winter-run steelhead, and northern red-legged frog. The area also supports a large bird population, with recent surveys identifying more than 43 species, including the bald eagle, dunlin, rufous hummingbird, and willow flycatcher. In addition, bear and cougar have been sighted on the property. Once completed, the park visitors will have access to six wildlife viewing areas, including two on the ADA-accessible Beltz Dike trail.
The 244-acre park contains a variety of ecosystems including 87 acres of marsh, sand, and mudflats, the 12-acre estuary, 157 acres of dunes and uplands, and 113 acres of meadow and forest land east of Sandlake Road. Three miles of trails will guide visitors through the estuary, with two loop trails in the forested dunes, as well as two beach access points. On clear days guests will enjoy views of Cape Lookout to the north and Cape Kiwanda to the south.
For a wild stretch of the Oregon Coast, “This is as good as it gets,” says Ecotrust executive chairman Spencer Beebe.
The Sitka Sedge State Natural Area gate swings open to the public June 2, which also happens to be State Parks Day. Celebrate both events with a free barbecue lunch for the first 100 visitors, 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Snack on hot dogs and chips in the day-use area before you head out to explore the park. Parking is limited to 26 vehicles (two are ADA-accessible) at the Sitka Sedge parking area, so please respect the neighborhood and don’t park on the shoulders of Sandlake Road. If the parking area is full, consider visiting Clay Meyers State Natural Area just north of Sitka Sedge, or Cape Kiwanda State Natural Area to the south, while waiting for parking to become available. Cape Lookout State Park, eight miles north, is also an option.