A Living History
For centuries, the coastal fog-belt forest — a rich and diverse ecosystem blanketed with towering Sitka spruce trees — was the predominant landscape of the central Oregon coast.
But like so many once-wild regions, human activities have left their mark on the landscape. Cities were built. Highways were created. Animals native to the area lost their habitat. Then during World War I, the area’s mighty Sitka spruce forests were clear-cut as the strong, lightweight wood was needed to make aircraft. The natural spaces that had thrived for millennia were rapidly disappearing.
Oregon coast trial attorney, Bill Barton, and his wife and former Newport Port Commissioner, JoAnn Barton, are working to change that. In July of 2013, they began buying up land parcels in the area, working to piece together one of the last natural areas of its kind on the Oregon coast.
The result? A 168-acre peninsula off of Yaquina Bay that’s home to a herd of elk, black bears, cougars, eagles and more. Working closely with a skilled forester, the Bartons seek to return the land as closely as possible to what it might have looked like hundreds of years ago. To date, they have planted nearly 10,000 native trees and shrubs, including 7,000 Sitka spruce.