Cape Falcon Marine Reserve celebrates one year anniversary

Friends of Cape Falcon Marine Reserve’s Outreach Coordinator, Chrissy Smith, shares about Oregon’s marine reserve during the North Coast Land Conservancy’s sponsored guided hike.

On Jan. 1 the Cape Falcon Marine Reserve celebrated its first birthday. Oregon’s newest marine reserve, this site is located in the ocean just off the northern coast, between Falcon Cove and Manzanita, Oregon and is an area dedicated to conservation and scientific research.

Oregon’s marine reserves are managed by Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife. The Cape Falcon site includes a marine reserve, where all removal of marine life and ocean development (e.g. wave energy, pipelines) is prohibited. Adjacent to the marine reserve are two marine protected areas (MPAs.) The MPAs prohibit ocean development, but allow some limited fishing activities. The Shoreside MPA is located off of Falcon Cove allows recreational angling from shore. The West MPA is located further offshore, west of the marine reserve. Fishing for salmon (by troll) and crabbing are allowed. Recreation in and near the marine reserve is encouraged. For example, people may walk, collect shells, boogie board, and boat in the marine reserve site. More information and maps are available at the ODFW website:

This first year was all about education. Prior to 2016, very few Oregonians knew about marine reserves generally, and the Cape Falcon Marine Reserve specifically. ODFW benefits from local non-profits to help spread the word.

The Friends of Cape Falcon Marine Reserve, a north coast-based volunteer organization, has been actively working to promote the reserve over the last year. The group benefits from the fiscal sponsorship of the Lower Nehalem Community Trust.

“The Friends have been busy,” said Chrissy Smith, Outreach Coordinator for the group, “with the help of partners and dedicated volunteers we have spread our message at 60 events in 2016!” Events included guided hikes to vistas of the marine reserve, marine science lectures, citizen science seabird counts, day camps, and school field trips. They also helped install regulatory and interpretive signs along the coast, informing the public about the new marine reserve.

“The Friends are dedicated to helping people connect with the marine reserve and we try to do that in a variety of ways.” The Friends often partner with other organizations that have similar missions like land trusts, watershed councils, and environmental education groups, “We rely heavily on great community partners like the Lower Nehalem Community Trust, North Coast Land Conservancy, Lower Nehalem Watershed Council, and Haystack Rock Awareness Program. We also work with The Nature Conservancy, The Surfrider Foundation, Oregon Shores Conservation Coalition-CoastWatch, Coast Range Association, and the Audubon Society of Portland.  These partnerships allow for a fuller story to be shared; one that captures the connection between our land and sea.”

The Friends are also a partner on Oswald West Action Days, a community event addressing stewardship needs at Short Sand Beach in Oswald West State Park. “The Surfrider Foundation’s Portland Chapter hosts action days at the reserve a few times per year. We all love Short Sands and it is one of the most visited areas on our coastline. This event lets the community do our part to keep this place beautiful. Oswald West State Park is the gateway to the marine reserve and we want people to understand and value what they are playing in, viewing, and enjoying” said Smith.

The public will have plenty of opportunities to learn about Cape Falcon Marine Reserve in 2017. The partners are building their schedule: lectures are scheduled for the next few months, another round of Audubon-led seabird counts will start up in May, and guided hikes are in development for summer months. “Thanks to funding from the Lazar Foundation, the Oregon Marine Reserve Partnership, and Visit Tillamook Coast/ Economic Development Council of Tillamook County, the Friends will be creating a stronger online presence, translating outreach materials into Spanish, and finding new ways to interact with the public.” states Smith. They are also working on developing a boat tour to allow visitors to experience the marine reserve from the water.

For information about local marine reserve field trips, lectures, and volunteer opportunities, contact Chrissy Smith, Coordinator of the Friends of Cape Falcon Marine Reserve at 541-231-8041,, or connect via Facebook: