PROTECTING A SACRED SPACE: THE VISION FOR YAKONA NATURE PRESERVE.


In 2012, Bill and JoAnn Barton purchased a 77-acre parcel that crowns the peninsula. This purchase was the realization of their dream to create and preserve public green space on Yaquina Bay. This 250 acre peninsula between King and McCaffery Sloughs is comprised of stands of mixed coastal fog-belt forests of mature Sitka spruce, Douglas fir, red alder, hemlock, vine maple, big leaf maple, and western red cedar. A big bend in the Yaquina River frames this peninsula, where the tidal portion of the river gives way to the deep water of the bay. It’s a special place — a sacred space — that they want to share with the public.

ENGAGING WITH NATURE

The Barton’s vision includes learning opportunities for students from surrounding schools, campers from the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry Coastal Discovery Center, and a forest laboratory for Oregon State University students.

The Yakona Nature Preserve will allow users to interact with and learn about the natural world and our connection to it. An easily accessible nature preserve is one of the best environments for children to explore, absorb and learn. Connecting children, parents, and students with the history and ecology of the land will result in increased awareness and appreciation of the relationship between the health of natural habitats and the vitality of our communities. 

TURNING VISION INTO REALITY

To date, the Bartons have acquired more than 165 acres of land — including the majority of the vacated towns of West Yaquina and Parker’s Addition — and made substantial improvements on the peninsula. These improvements include three miles of trails, bridges, abatement of blackberry and Scots broom, and replanting a recent 47-acre clear-cut with native trees and shrubs.  

David Landrum, an experienced forester, serves as the project manager, trail designer/ builder and person responsible for executing the Barton’s vision for the preserve.

THE NEXT STEPS

Going forward, a broad management plan will include goals and objectives for recreation and education to guide further development of the nature preserve.

Interim plans include building additional trails and bridges, thinning and inter-planting two neglected plantation Douglas fir forests, abatement of English ivy and holly, building a kayak dock and installing benches at viewpoints. 

Perhaps the greatest future challenge involves access to the preserve. Construction of new roads and/or improvements to existing roads will ensure the least impact on neighbors.

PARTNERSHIPS SPELL SUCCESS

The success of the Yakona Nature Preserve depends on adequate funding. With land purchases on the peninsula nearing completion, the Bartons are seeking financial partnerships to establish diversified funding streams. These may include acquiring additional commercial forestlands for periodic, sustainable timber harvest and carbon credits partnerships, as well as foundation and public support. An Oregon tax-exempt 501(c)3 incorporation is pending.

In addition, establishing partnerships are essential for the success of this project. These may include Lincoln County, the Oregon State University’s Forestry Department Extension Service, Hatfield Marine Science Center, the Newport community, local tribes, private landowners, timber companies, and foundations. 

The legacy of the nature preserve shall one day belong to a community — a community of people, local governments, and teaching institutions. With its majesty secured for all time, this preserve will enrich the lives of countless generations and ensure that habitat for wildlife endures.


References:

Stephen Fitzgerald, Valerie Grant, Jim Johnson - Oregon State University

David Landrum 2016 - Yakona Nature Preserve