Sitka Sedge State Natural Area Officially Opens

View of Sitka Sedge State Natural Area from dike road. | Photo by Dale Harmer.

One of Oregon Shores’ greatest triumphs was the preservation of the Sand Lake Spit.  In the early part of this century, the area, then known as the Beltz Farm, was under threat of resort development.  Working with local supporters in adjacent Tierra del Mar, Oregon Shores successfully thwarted the scheme, and the out-of-state owner eventually gave up and sold it to the state.  It is now the Sitka Sedge State Natural Area.

While many of us have visited the new park grounds in the intervening years, walking up the beach or through the dunes from Tierra del Mar, Sitka Sedge had not officially opened until now.  This Saturday, June 2, we put a cap on this achievement in preserving one of the coast’s most extensive remaining natural areas.

As it happens, Saturday is Oregon State Parks Day, so it is most appropriate occasion for this ceremony. The Sitka Sedge State Natural Area gate swings open to the public on Saturday. Celebrate with a free barbecue lunch for the first 100 visitors, 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Snack on hot dogs and chips in the day-use area before you head out to explore the park. Parking is limited to 26 vehicles (two are ADA-accessible) at the Sitka Sedge parking area, so please respect the neighborhood and don’t park on the shoulders of Sandlake Road. If the parking area is full, consider visiting Clay Meyers State Natural Area just north of Sitka Sedge, or Cape Kiwanda State Natural Area to the south, while waiting for parking to become available. Cape Lookout State Park, eight miles north, is also an option.

As you hike and explore the park’s three miles of trails, look for six wildlife viewing areas that overlook the Sand Lake Estuary, marshlands, forested dunes and the ocean. The half-mile Beltz Dike Trail is ADA-accessible and includes two accessible viewing areas, and also is the main trail leading to the Estuary View Loop and Kinnikinnik Woods Loop. Both loops have spur trails leading to the beach; on clear days, visitors can see Cape Lookout to the north and Cape Kiwanda to the south. Look for the dike trailhead in the northern portion of the day-use area.

The original Beltz Farm was purchased from the nonprofit Ecotrust (which served as intermediary) in 2014 for $1.8 million. The Oregon Parks and Recreation Department used voter-dedicated Oregon Lottery funds and a National Coastal Wetlands Conservation grant from the U.S. Forest Service to fund the purchase.

Quick Facts

·         The park’s name comes from the beautiful, native grass-like plant found in pockets throughout the marshlands, Sitka Sedge (Carex aquatilis v. dives).

·         The park is within the Sand Lake watershed, a rare estuarine habitat that provides flooding capacity and a natural water filter. Several agency partners—including the Sand Lake Working Group—strive to protect and restore the watershed.

·         Sitka Sedge is in the traditional territory of the Nestucca group of Tillamook Indians. The latest cultural resource survey found multiple precontact and historic archaeological sites.

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