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Local group to manage rare swamp

A view of Blind Slough Swamp (James Thompson/Courtesy NCLC)
Thursday, February 28, 2019

Blind Slough Swamp, a large Sitka spruce swamp, was transferred last week to the North Coast Land Conservancy.

Much of the original forested floodplain along the Oregon side of the lower Columbia River has been logged and diked for pasture. Blind Slough Swamp Preserve is an exception.

The swamp represents a habitat type that was once common from Tillamook County to Alaska but is now globally rare.

“Oregon’s land trusts play a critical role in our state’s future,” said Derek Johnson, director of protection and stewardship for The Nature Conservancy in Oregon. “After many years of partnership with North Coast Land Conservancy, we are proud to place the long-term care of Blind Slough Swamp Preserve in their capable hands.”

The Nature Conservancy’s Oregon office began conserving tracts of intact spruce swamp near Knappa in 1992. By 2010, it owned 902 acres. Meanwhile, The Nature Conservancy had begun collaborating with volunteers and staff from North Coast Land Conservancy, headquartered in Seaside, to help provide hands-on stewardship and monitoring for the property.

The transfer of ownership makes it NCLC’s largest habitat reserve.

“It’s diverse, and very complex, and very special,” said NCLC Stewardship Director Melissa Reich.

Reich organized work parties at Blind Slough Swamp from 2009 to 2012 as an AmeriCorps volunteer for The Nature Conservancy before joining the NCLC staff in 2013.

“It’s unlike any other conserved land in this area at this scale,” Reich said.

Blind Slough Swamp is bordered on three sides by Columbia River sloughs and channels and is accessible only by boat. It’s adjacent to Lewis and Clark National Wildlife Refuge.

The preserve provides habitat for an abundance of birds, fish, and other wildlife, including bald eagles, osprey, river otter, beaver, coho salmon, nesting yellow warblers, olive-sided flycatchers, and rufous hummingbirds.

Blind Slough Swamp will be managed by NCLC as part of its Columbia Quiet Waters Conservation Initiative, along with the Conservancy’s other properties on the Columbia and John Day rivers and a dozen preserves on the Warrenton peninsula.

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