Frequently Asked Questions
Where exactly is the proposed community forest?
The forest is east of the part of U.S. Highway 101 that runs through Arch Cape. It is adjacent to Oswald West State Park and to North Coast Land Conservancy's Rainforest Reserve.
How much land is there?
The Arch Cape Water District is seeking ownership of 1,500 acres outright, with an additional 600 acres managed in partnership with North Coast Land Conservancy (NCLC).
Is this part of the NCLC Rainforest Reserve project?
No, but the two projects are neighbors. The opportunity to purchase the Arch Cape Forest emerged after the early successes of NCLC’s Rainforest Reserve campaign, which led to the conservation of 3,500 acres of timberland above Arch Cape and adjacent to Oswald West State Park in October 2021. The remaining acres are currently owned by Onion Peak Holdings and managed by the forestland investment management company Ecotrust Forest Management (EFM).
If the District is successful as well, then each entity will separately own different parts of the Onion Peak property. The 1,500 acres the Water District seeks to buy are below the Onion Peak ridgeline and share a common property line with NCLC's Rainforest Reserve. However, the upper reaches of Asbury Creek are in a 600-acre block that is a part of the Rainforest Reserve, which the Water District will help NCLC manage for water quality.
Why is it necessary to buy this land?
Purchasing the watershed will permanently protect Arch Cape’s drinking water — from the headwaters to the tap — while sustaining the rich character and beauty of Oregon’s coastal rainforest for generations.
All of the water consumed in Arch Cape arrives first as rain falling on fir, hemlock, and cedar trees in the upper reaches of the watershed, ultimately making its way down Shark and Asbury creeks to be used as a community drinking water supply. The headlands rise up nearly 3,000 feet in the two miles between the Pacific Ocean and Onion Peak. A healthy forest with diverse streamside vegetation is vital to holding soil in place, preventing erosion, and improving water quality downstream.
Our watershed also has unique geology and forest communities, providing habitat for federal species of concern and Oregon Conservation Strategy Species. The property is a historically recognized habitat for Coastal Coho, with 9.6 miles of stream draining directly into the Pacific Ocean.
What is a “community forest”?
A community forest offers the local community value and benefits from the land; access and rights to the forest resources; and participation in management decisions. These forests can be managed for timber production, agroforestry, recreation and/or watershed protection. Community forests are permanently protected and typically owned by a local government or community-based nonprofit.
The idea behind a community-owned forest is that residents can make different management decisions, like require larger buffers that would prevent stream contamination, ban pesticides and select-cut trees for revenue that goes straight to the community.
How does it benefit the community?
Securing local ownership of this unique property will result in several future benefits unique to community forestry, including clean water, stabilized water rates, and conservation and recreation opportunities.
How much will it cost to buy it?
An independent appraisal with a third-party review determined the value in 2022, which is the purchase price. It is $4.69 million. This is less than our initial estimate, allowing the Water District to spend some of the additional grant funds on forest management.
Who is paying for it? How?
The project will be funded at least 83% by grants and donations. The Arch Cape Water District is working with NCLC and the community-based nonprofit, Sustainable Northwest, to raise enough money to buy the property.
Who developed the baseline financial plan for the watershed acquisition?
In 2019, the Arch Cape Forest Finance Committee was created. This group, composed of representatives of the Water Board, District staff, consultants, and community members with extensive financial and timber industry experience, assembled a baseline financial plan for the purchase and long term management of the property.
What happens to the land if we don’t buy it?
The Arch Cape Water District holds an option to purchase the property by the end of 2023. If the District does not purchase the property, the current owner, Onion Peak Holdings LLC, is required to sell it.
If the District does not buy the property it will likely be purchased by an industrial timber management company or developer.
How is the property zoned?
The property is zoned “Forestland.”
Who is the current owner?
Ecotrust Forest Management (EFM), a Portland company that manages land on behalf of investors and forestland owners to enhance forest health and productivity, and to produce a diverse array of forest products and services including timber, biomass, carbon, and improved habitat and water quality.
EFM, a subsidiary of Ecotrust, is an FSC-certified resource manager and currently has 13,000 acres of forest under management in Oregon and Washington. EFM purchased the property from Stimson Lumber in 2016.
Who is negotiating the sale?
The Arch Cape Domestic Water Supply District is working with an attorney specializing in timberland and conservation acquisitions to negotiate the purchase of the Arch Cape Forest. The District has a purchase agreement with the seller, which expires in mid-2023.
Will our water rates go up to pay for it?
Within the rates established in its Long-Term Financial Plan, the District has budgeted $50,000 toward watershed acquisition expenses, to include a refundable option to purchase the property and a required appraisal to establish a purchase price.
Some of the District Manager’s time has been used to keep the process on track. At this time, the Water District has no intention of raising rates to pay for the acquisition or the long-term management of the property. The plan is for grants, donations, loans, and timber revenue to finance the initial and future costs of property ownership.
Will a tax levy be necessary?
The Water District is considering a property tax levy to be decided in an upcoming election to help offset costs of management. The finance plan will be updated in 2022 to determine whether that will be necessary.
Who will own the land once purchased?
The Arch Cape Domestic Water Supply District will own the property.
How much will it cost to maintain/manage?
How much the property costs to maintain depends on the proposed uses of the land. Simply maintaining the roads will cost about $25,000 per year. Any proposed timber harvests also have costs before they can net a profit.
Developing a forest management plan and having it certified by a third party will cost $30,000 up front and $1,500 per year to maintain.
The Oregon Department of Forestry fire patrol fee adds up to about $2,400 per year. On average, this adds up to about $30,000 per year to maintain access, safety, and the health of the forest.
How will we pay for maintenance/management?
The baseline forest financial plan identifies ongoing maintenance and management costs to be paid for through timber revenue. Additional revenue sources are being pursued to cover a multi-year shortfall in the mid part of the plan. Click here to read the district's Arch Cape Watershed Acquisition Plan.
What are the plans for the land once purchased?
The primary project goal of the project is drinking water protection. Sustainable timber harvest (to pay for property management), recreation and wildlife habitat are also planned.
What activities will be allowed in the forest? Hiking? Hunting? Camping?
There are no planned changes to the uses that are currently allowed in the forest. Hiking is currently allowed. An initial management plan was adopted in late 2021. Recreation planning will occur in 2022.
Who will maintain/manage it?
The property will be under the direct management of the Arch Cape Water District Board, in coordination with a consulting forester. This model is followed by other neighboring cities that own and manage forestland in their drinking watershed areas.
Will the land be logged?
If the Water District takes ownership of the property, the land will remain in forest use, including periodic timber harvesting operations determined by the Water Board, a consulting forester, and the Community Advisory Committee.
Can we take a tour of the property?
Due to COVID-19, we’re not currently offering tours. However, we’re planning virtual tours for the future. You can stay up to date with the project on our website and Facebook page: facebook.com/ArchCapeForest.
How can we access the property?
The property can currently be accessed at the Hug Point gate at the north end of Arch Cape off of Hwy 101. A southern access to the property also exists just south of the Arch Cape Tunnel on the east side of the road.
Are there plans to develop the forest? Campsites?
At this time there are no immediate plans to develop the forest. We’re in the process of planning for the management of the property, including recreation, forest management, and conservation. The property will likely be day-use only.
Are there similar community forest projects in Oregon?
Cannon Beach has a community forest that the City purchased in two transactions, in 1999 and 2010. The 1,040-acre property is managed for clean drinking water, wildlife habitat and recreation.
Astoria’s Bear Creek Watershed is comprised of approximately 3,700 acres of forestland which provides high quality drinking water to city residents while also providing timber harvest revenue that supports City services.
Hood River County owns and manages over 34,000 acres of forestland for timber revenue, recreational opportunities and wildlife habitat. Some 3,200 acres of the County Forest are set aside to protect threatened and endangered species, streams and riparian areas, and provide road access.
The cities of Nehalem and Forest Grove have successfully managed owned forestland for drinking water protection for many years.
What if I have other questions? Who can I talk with about this project?
Please contact Phil Chick, manager of the Arch Cape Water District, at 503-436-2790 or firstname.lastname@example.org or Dan Seifer, president of the Arch Cape Water District, at email@example.com.
How can I get involved?
Visit archcapeforest.org, the forest Facebook page at facebook.com/ArchCapeForest or email Phil Chick at firstname.lastname@example.org.