September 16, 2014, Portland, Oregon —Oregon State Parks on Friday completed its purchase of the Beltz Farm property at the south end of Tillamook County’s Sand Lake, permanently protecting an unparalleled stretch of coastal open space.
“All of Oregon is wealthier today, with this land in the public’s hands,” said Spencer Beebe, Ecotrust founder and chairman and a fourth-generation Oregonian. Beebe said of the Sand Lake property: “For a wild stretch of the Oregon Coast, this is as good as it gets. Beltz Farm contains critical wetlands, unique plant communities, and habitat for salmon and shorebirds. It deserves to be permanently protected and restored for all Oregonians.”
Oregon State Parks used Oregon Lottery funds to buy the property from Ecotrust for $1.8 million, the same price Ecotrust paid for Beltz Farm in May. The state’s acquisition is the first step in opening a new park, a process that could take a year or longer.
“We’re bringing a new natural, outdoor experience to Oregonians thanks to two key partners,” said Lisa Van Laanen, Oregon Parks and Recreation Department director. “First, Ecotrust put us in a position to purchase the property. Second, Oregon’s citizens chose long ago to preserve the coast as a public place to explore and play, and they’ve given us the modest means to make prudent investments such as Beltz to improve the experience.”
Ecotrust used a $1.3 million short-term loan from non-profit lender Craft 3, a recoverable grant from Bandon Biota, LLC-operated by Bandon Dunes owner Mike Keiser, and another recoverable grant from an anonymous donor to cover the purchase. The organization also used grants from the Hitz Foundation, the Oregon Community Foundation’s Donor-Advised Funds, the Autzen Foundation, and 60 crowdsourced small donors to cover the transaction costs. All of the main donors and investors marshalled in support of the project within three months during this past winter.
“This sale involved an extremely swift effort on the part of the Oregon philanthropic and impact investing community,” said Ecotrust’s Spencer Beebe. “With such a short window to act, we could not have put this deal together without the unwavering support of some key individuals and organizations.”
Mike Keiser, owner of Bandon Dunes, said: “Without like-minded organizations such as Ecotrust stepping forward to preserve Oregon’s remaining pristine ecosystems, purchases like this for the benefit of Oregon’s present and future citizens will not occur. I am pleased to be a part of this initiative to protect Sand Lake and other efforts like it, such as the recent public acquisition of Whales’ Cove on the central Oregon coast.” Mr. Keiser’s Wild Rivers Coast Alliance and Bandon Biota initiatives are working to help stabilize the economy and protect the environment on the southern Oregon coast.
Located on the north coast between Cape Lookout State Park and Cape Kiwanda State Natural Area in Pacific City, Sand Lake is one of Oregon’s least developed estuaries, including approximately 1,250 acres of open water, tidal flat, emergent marsh, and forested wetlands. At the southern end of the estuary is the 357-acre property known as Beltz Farm, containing ocean beaches, wetlands, and forests that are important habitat for birds, mammals, and salmon. The property connects the ocean and estuary to the Siuslaw National Forest to the east. Classified as a relatively pristine estuary, Sand Lake is the only remaining estuary of its size on the Oregon Coast that is dominated by a diverse set of native plant associations, due to very little agricultural or commercial development.
The property and Sand Lake estuary support a large bird population, with recent surveys identifying more than 43 species, including the bald eagle, dunlin, rufous hummingbird, and willow flycatcher, which are all North Coast basin priority species. Bear and cougar have been sighted on the property and it provides important habitat for coho and chum salmon and steelhead.
The state’s documented interest in acquiring this property dates to the 1960s. In recent years, golf course developers have unsuccessfully tried to acquire and develop the property. Development is challenging because of difficult access and abundant wetlands.
Communities around the property have shown strong support for its protection during recent public meetings. The purchase by Oregon State Parks is unanimously supported by Tillamook County Commissioners.
Among other key protection initiatives, Ecotrust worked with the Haisla First Nation to create a heritage conservancy of the entire 800,000-acre Kitlope River valley in northern British Columbia, the largest unlogged watershed on the entire West Coast.
The organization also aided in the protection of the Copper River Delta and Prince William Sound forests in Alaska and the Clayoquot Sound area of Vancouver Island, important lands for local communities and economies.
EFM arranged the Beltz Farm transaction on behalf of Ecotrust. EFM is a for-profit subsidiary of Ecotrust engaged in forestland investment management, conservation finance, and New Markets Tax Credit and carbon credit advisory services. EFM manages 30,000 acres of forestland in Oregon and Washington through two private investment funds, and it advises conservation, community, and tribal entities on forestland acquisition, including negotiation, real estate diligence, structuring, and financing services.
Read more about the state parks work to purchase Beltz Farm.
Ecotrust’s goal is to fosteranatural model ofdevelopment that createsmore resilient communities, economies and ecosystems hereandaroundthe world. Ecotrust’s manyinnovations include co-foundingan environmental bank, startingthe world’s first ecosystem investment fund, creating a rangeof programs in fisheries,forestry, food, farms and indigenous affairs,and developingnew scientificand information tools to improvesocial, economic and environmental decisionmaking. Ecotrust works locallyin ways that promisehope abroad, and it takes inspiration from thewisdom of Native andFirst Nation leadership.Learn more at www.ecotrust.org @ ecotrust