North Coast Land Conservancy and the Arch Cape Water and Sanitary Districts moved one big step closer to protecting the source of Arch Cape’s drinking water this week. On Saturday the Oregon Department of Forestry’s State Forest Stewardship Coordinating Committee announced that it had recommended that the US Forest Service consider the two organizations’ request for $4.5 million to help acquire the watershed that provides Arch Cape’s water. A recommendation from the committee was necessary in order for the grant request to move forward. The funding, if approved, would be granted in fiscal year 2019.
That land, once acquired, would become a community forest, managed by the District for the benefit of residents, visitors, and the broader public. Currently the land is privately owned and has been managed for many years as industrial timberland.
“Our partnership with North Coast Land Conservancy and the Forest Legacy opportunity is a huge step toward realizing the vision of a natural forest managed with the protection of drinking water sources as a top priority,” said ACWSD Manager Phil Chick. “The ability to provide clean, safe, and affordable drinking water to residents and visitors of Arch Cape for generations to come is extremely motivating for the Water District. We look forward to engaging the public in the community forest vision very soon.”
The Arch Cape Community Forest concept grew out of North Coast Land Conservancy’s Rainforest Reserve proposal, which seeks to conserve 3,500 acres of timberland above Arch Cape and adjacent to Oswald West State Park. The 2,100-acre Arch Cape Community Forest would include land within those 3,500 acres as well as additional low-elevation forestland.
The US Forest Service’s Forest Legacy Program provides funding to protect forest lands from converting to non-forest uses. It complements private, federal, and state programs by directly supporting property acquisition by a public entity for forest conservation.
“‘It’s not just the fish and wildlife that benefit from conservation,” said NCLC Executive Director Katie Voelke. “People are the greatest beneficiaries. This project—working together with the community to ensure clean, clear drinking water—is the perfect example.”