The U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service has announced the investment of $2.5 million in the Arch Cape Watershed project as part of the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF).
With a goal of providing clean, safe, and affordable drinking water to Arch Cape residents and visitors, the Arch Cape Forest watershed project seeks to create a working community-owned forest that sustains the rich character and beauty of Oregon’s coastal rainforest for generations.
After being awarded $1 million last year from the same U.S. Forest Service “Forest Legacy” program, the Arch Cape Domestic Water Supply District secured an option to purchase timberland for the creation of the community forest and protected watershed.
“This investment by the USDA Forest Service is the next step in realizing our goal of a community forest in Arch Cape that permanently protects our drinking water,” said Dan Seifer, president of the district. “For some time, those in our community and our county have recognized the importance of protecting the source of our drinking water. I’m excited that others in our state, our region, and nationally are pointing to our project as a model for protecting a community’s water supply.”
Partnering with the North Coast Land Conservancy (NCLC), a nationally accredited nonprofit land conservancy, and Sustainable Northwest, conservation nonprofit, the District is proposing to purchase approximately 1,457 acres.
The acquisition is part of a larger, decades-long effort by the North Coast Land Conservancy to secure 3,500 adjoining acres of rare plants, critical forest habitat, and historical salmon-bearing streams, which will be known as the Rainforest Reserve. The property is owned by Onion Peak Holdings, and managed by EFM, a natural forest management company that manages lands with unique environmental and social attributes to restore forests to health.
The Portland law firm of Schwabe, Williamson & Wyatt is assisting the Arch Cape Water District with pro-bono legal guidance through the property acquisition.
Last year, Congress provided for permanent funding of LWCF in the Great American Outdoors Act. Land acquisition projects add lands to National Forests to improve public access, connect habitat, and protect natural resources.
The Forest Legacy Program is a conservation program administered by the Forest Service in partnership with State agencies to encourage the protection of privately owned forest lands through conservation easements or land purchases. Oregon Department of Forestry will be a key partner for the Arch Cape Water District during the project.
The Forest Service has been administering LWCF projects since 1964 along with the Department of the Interior. The fund provides critical support for Forest Service-led conservation projects including for critical acquisition of non-federal lands inside national forest and grassland boundaries.
About the Arch Cape Forest
Adjacent to both Oswald West State Park and Cape Falcon Marine Reserve, the proposed Arch Cape Forest has great cultural and scenic value. Securing local ownership of this unique property and establishing a community forest offers numerous benefits, including clean water, and stabilized water rates, along with conservation and recreation opportunities.