Located on the north coast between Cape Lookout State Park and Cape Kiwanda State Natural Area (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 a 357-acre parcel known as the Beltz Farm property, containing ocean beaches, wetlands, and forests that are important habitat for birds, mammals, and salmon. Ecotrust closed on a purchase of the property on May 1, 2014, with the intention of permanently protecting the area. Oregon State Parks and Recreation Commission has expressed strong interest in acquiring it from Ecotrust with Oregon Lottery funds dedicated to state park acquisitions by the Oregon Legislative Assembly. The commission will take up a potential purchase as soon as its June meeting.
A Significant Conservation Property
- The state’s documented interest in acquiring this property dates to the 1960s. Now it is the highest acquisition priority for Oregon State Parks. Ecotrust has signed an option agreement with Oregon State Parks, facilitating the eventual purchase of the property by the state.
- 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 contains superior waterfowl, salmon, and wetland habitat. The complex of beaches, dunes, tidal and freshwater marshes on Beltz Farm is considered one of the best remaining unprotected coastal remnants.
- The dunes stretching along the south spit of Sand Lake were identified during the development of the Western snowy plover Habitat Conservation Plan as having potential for providing self-sustaining habitat for Western snowy plover nesting.
- The Sand Lake property and estuary support a large bird population with recent surveys identifying over 43 species. These species include the bald eagle, dunlin, rufous hummingbird, and willow flycatcher, which are all North Coast basin priority species. Bear and cougar have been sighted and the property provides important habitat for coho and chum salmon and steelhead.