Clatsop County Water District secures property to establish a community forest at Arch Cape

ARCH CAPE, Ore. — The Arch Cape Inland Water Supply District has realized the vision of connecting the community to its drinking water source with the purchase of approximately 1,500 acres of forest land. The purchase, completed in June 2022, was made possible with $ 5.5 million in federal funding and $ 250,000 in Clatsop County funding. It will establish the Arch Cape Forest in public ownership.

The district finalized the acquisition with current owner Ecotrust Forests II LLC on June 9 for $ 4.7 million. The purchase of the watershed, which is attached to both Oswald West State Park and Cape Falcon Marine Reserve, will permanently protect the source of Arch Cape’s drinking water from the upper reaches to the tap.

“The health and resilience of the surrounding forest directly controls both the quantity and quality of our domestic drinking water,” said Phil Chick, district manager, Arch Cape Domestic Water Supply District. “The acquisition of the forest allows for watershed management primarily for the protection of our water, while providing potential conservation, recreation and economic benefits.”

A healthy forest with diverse vegetation along the stream is essential to keep soil in place, prevent erosion and improve downstream water quality. All the water consumed in Arch Cape comes first as rain falling on spruce, hemlock and cedar trees in the upper parts of the watershed. The peaks rise nearly 3,000 feet in the two miles between the Pacific Ocean and Onion Peak, the second highest peak in Clatsop County and one of the higher peaks in the Oregon Coast Range. Eventually, this water drains into Shark and Asbury streams to be used as a community drinking water supply.

Funding for the project came from a variety of sources, including approximately $ 3.5 million from the U.S. Forest Service’s Forest Legacy program. Another $ 2 million came from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) by Business Oregon.

Amy Singh, an administrator of the Oregon Department of Forestry (ODF)’s Forest Legacy program, explained that $ 3.5 million for this purchase of the USDA Forest Service came through its Land and Water Conservation Fund, which represents the nationally competitive Forest Legacy program supported.

“ODF is working with the Forest Service to evaluate valuable projects in Oregon where local people want to keep forest lands intact to benefit their community and economy,” Singh said. “Arch Cape is a great example of how the program does this while benefiting the environment and protecting the wooded character of the area.”

Business Oregon provided $ 2 million in funds from the federal U.S. Rescue Plan Act to help secure the country. The North Coast Land Conservancy (NCLC) used the land value of a portion of the Rainforest Reserve as an in-nature match to help meet the requirements of the Forest Legacy Awards. The remaining match requirements were met with $ 250,000 from Clatsop County and nearly $ 300,000 from community contributions.

Attorneys Greg Fullem and Janna Davydova provided legal advice through the pro-bono program at Portland-based firm Schwabe, Williamson and Wyatt.

A shared vision for the north coast

“Although the Arch Cape Forest and Rainforest Reserve are two unique projects, they have a shared vision: protecting our forest, improving water quality and maintaining a higher quality of life for the people, plants and wildlife that inhabit northern Oregon. inhabited coast. ” said Katie Voelke, executive director of the NCLC.

The Water District will remain the owner of the property and is advised by a community advisory committee. Sustainable Northwest, a regional nonprofit, provided strategic planning and project management to the core group of local volunteers and leaders over the course of the 5-year campaign.

In 2019, representatives of the Water District Council, district staff, consultants and community members with extensive financial and timber industry experience compiled a basic financial plan that confirmed the feasibility of the purchase and long-term management of the property.

In 2021, a seven-member community advisory committee voted to adopt a set of forest management policies created through a dialogue with the consulting board builder, Springboard Forestry, LLC. From now on, the community advisory committee will involve the wider public before drawing up a 10-year operating plan.

“The community forest management model ensures that local people enjoy safe and reliable access to the ecological, social and economic benefits produced by forests,” said Ben Dair Rothfuss, Conservation Finance Senior Manager for Sustainable Northwest. “The residents and community leaders in Arch Cape have volunteered for hundreds of hours to make this project possible. We believe that local involvement and ownership will ensure a sustainable and balanced outcome, as the community becomes the long-term stewards of the forest. “

The water district is currently working with NCLC and Nuveen Natural Capital property management staff at Lewis & Clark Timberlands’ Gearhart office, with the assistance of advisory planners at the NPS Rivers Trails and Conservation Assistance Program, to develop a thoughtful and balanced approach to public access to sit. which will enable people to enjoy the natural beauty of the forest while preserving its ecological value.

A broad process for public stakeholders will begin in July.

For more information on the Arch Cape Forest, visit and

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