The Beaver Creek Natural Area Partnership consists of a series of conservation actions among multiple partners in the Beaver Creek watershed, which is about seven miles south of Newport on the Central Oregon Coast. Beaver Creek is a tributary to the Pacific Ocean situated between the larger Yaquina and Alsea River estuaries. The Beaver Creek basin, about 32,500 acres in size, is largely undeveloped, and supports forestry, agriculture, and recreation. Ona Beach State Park, located at the mouth of Beaver Creek protects beach, dune, estuary, riparian and lowland forest habitats, and provides low-impact recreational access to the beach, the estuary, and the river. Approximately 11,000 acres of the watershed is managed by the U.S. Forest Service for old-growth forest conditions, with about 40% of the watershed currently managed for conservation.
Protection of a large diverse habitat area including estuary, riparian and upland habitats will allow for potential habitat migration caused by climate change impacts to the estuary. Protecting and restoring this large block of diverse lands also offers the opportunity to reverse the trend in habitat conditions that are a result of the impacts of coastal development, the construction of highway 101, conversion of wetlands to agriculture and timber extraction over the past century.
Beaver Creek Acquisitions
In 2007 and 2008, the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department acquired 349 acres of wetland, riparian and upland habitats adding on to their 220-acre Ona Beach State Park and to an 80-acre wetland owned by The Wetlands Conservancy forming a significant natural area anchor in the Beaver Creek estuary.
Oregon Parks and Recreation and The Wetlands Conservancy are working to acquire and protect 417 additional acres of coastal forest, riparian floodplain, and wetland habitat directly adjacent to existing protected areas under the ownership of the Wetlands Conservancy and the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department and one additional 583 acre upland acquisition.
Beaver Creek Conservation Easement Acquisition
The Wetlands Conservancy in partnership with Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife and Oregon State Parks and Recreation has purchased an 82.6 acre conservation easement on designated critical habitat for the marbled murrelet within the Lower Beaver Creek watershed of the Oregon Central Coast. We are now working on the acquisition of an additional adjacent 165 acres of critical murrelet habitat.
The Beaver Creek Restoration and Management Plan provides an integrated conservation and restoration strategy for the lower Beaver Creek watershed. Beaver Creek is a tributary to the Pacific Ocean. The Beaver Creek basin, about 32,500 acres in size, is largely undeveloped, and supports forestry, agriculture, and recreation. About 36 percent of the watershed is currently in a conservation status. This wetland complex and its fringing habitats have been the focus of several conservation actions. Additionally, Beaver Creek wetlands and watershed have been prioritized for protection in several federal, regional, state, and local conservation plans. This wetland complex supports a diversity of migratory and resident birds and waterfowl, and is a critical habitat component for anadromous salmonids populations in the basin. The adjacent uplands support a range of habitats from meadows to early seral stage Sitka spruce /western hemlock forest to older forest suitable for nesting by the ESA listed marbled murrelet.
The goal of the Lower Beaver Creek Restoration and Management Plan is to prioritize the conservation needs and opportunities for the Lower Beaver Creek watershed from an ecological perspective and promote the selection of acquisition and restoration projects that address critical watershed restoration issues. The ten-year goal is conservation and restoration of Sitka spruce swamp, estuarine and freshwater marsh and riparian habitats and upland forest in the watershed through actions targeted in this plan. By working with private landowners, the local community, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, US Fish and Wildlife Service, US Siuslaw National Forest, Lincoln County Soil and Water Conservation District and Lincoln County Land Legacy Program, The Wetlands Conservancy and Oregon Parks and Recreation Department have an opportunity to increase the conservation area and also the ecological linkages with existing protected areas in the upper watershed.