The Oregon Parks and Recreation Department (OPRD) closed a $1.8 million deal Sept. 12 to acquire 357 acres of coastal property in Tillamook County. Known locally as the Beltz property, the ecologically diverse plot sits along Sand Lake Road north of Pacific City and south of Cape Lookout State Park. The acquisition is the first step in opening a new park, a process that could take a year or longer.
The property consists of woodlands, dunes, oceanfront and both fresh- and saltwater marshes. OPRD purchased the land from Oregon-based nonprofit Ecotrust, which acquired it from a private landowner in May 2014. The final purchase price of $1.8 million was determined by an appraisal and is funded by Oregon Lottery dollars dedicated to state parks.
"We're bringing a new natural, outdoor experience to Oregonians thanks to two key partners," said Lisa Van Laanen, Oregon Parks and Recreation Department director. "First, Ecotrust put us in a position to purchase the property. Second, Oregon's citizens chose long ago to preserve the coast as a public place to explore and play, and they've given us the modest means to make prudent investments such as Beltz to improve the experience."
The department will work with the county and nearby residents to eventually open the park for hiking and bird watching, though a date has not yet been set. Plans include using existing low-impact trails and determining a safe public parking area, as well as preserving important habitat for coho salmon, great blue heron, bald eagles, songbirds and other wildlife.
Oregon state parks in Tillamook County currently attract 1.7 million visitors, resulting in $15 million a year in local spending, and a projected $100,000 in lodging taxes from state park camping in 2014.
More information on the property is at http://www.oregon.gov/oprd/pages/commission-beltz.aspx.