From U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Whale Cove Protected as part of Oregon Islands National Wildlife Refuge thanks to a diverse partnership
Depoe Bay OR –The land around Whale Cove on the central Oregon Coast is now a protected part of the Oregon Islands National Wildlife Refuge thanks to a partnership between the property owner and federal, state, and nonprofit organizations.
The 14-acre property in Lincoln County is two miles south of Depoe Bay, and surrounds the oldest marine reserve in Oregon where all marine life is protected. The site will be managed for its natural resource values and to protect Whale Cove’s ecology. The cove provides scenic views from nearby Rocky Creek State Park and US Highway 101.
As part of the Oregon Islands National Wildlife Refuge, Whale Cove will protect habitat for nesting seabirds including black oystercatcher, pigeon guillemot, pelagic cormorant, and western gull along with bald eagle and many species of songbirds. The cove also provides resting and pupping habitat that is used by over 100 Harbor Seals year-round. People will be able to enjoy the scenery from the nearby state park viewpoint, and by paddling in from Depoe Bay. USFWS staff and volunteers will focus on removing invasive plant species, especially English ivy, to improve the forested areas for wildlife.
The deal closed on December 31, 2014 thanks to support from the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT), Federal Highway Administration, (FHWA), U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), the nonprofit North Coast Land Conservancy, Oregon Parks and Recreation Department (OPRD), and property owners Bryce and Beebe Buchanan. The property was valued at $2,250,000; however, the owners donated $1,150,000 by reducing the sale price for the property, accepting $1.1 million.
“Seldom do you find an Oregon citizen like Bryce, who not only intentionally buys land for the purpose of conservation, but then has the patience and fortitude to work for more than a decade with multiple government agencies to achieve the goal of preservation,” says Neal Maine with the North Coast Land Conservancy.
The Buchanans originally purchased this portion of Whale Cove to conserve it; previous to their owning it there were multiple high-density development proposals for the land. But the Buchanans turned them all down. Instead they turned to the Federal Highway Administration who helped them preserve it. The FHWA awarded a Scenic Byways Grant for $650,000 in 2008 to help purchase the property. Oregon Parks and Recreation chipped in $450,000 in matching funds through Bandon Biota, an Oregon business. Neal Maine with The North Coast Land Conservancy played a pivotal role in applying for the federal funding and negotiating a deal with the Buchanans. ODOT coordinated the scenic byways funding, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service agreed to take ownership of the property and manage the site forever.
Oregon Islands National Wildlife Refuge encompasses 762 acres of coastal rocks, islands and headlands along 320 miles of the Oregon coastline. The refuge provides nesting habitat for most of Oregon’s 1.2 million nesting seabirds, and a large percentage of Oregon’s seal and sea lion population use the refuge to rest and produce their young.