Explore A Distinctive Oregon Coast Ecosystem with July 1 Netarts Spit Hike Event

Explore A Distinctive Oregon Coast Ecosystem with July 1 Netarts Spit Hike Event

Published 06/21/22 at 5:47 PM PST
By Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

(Netarts, Oregon) – Getting down to the nitty gritty and hiking a major sand spit on the north Oregon coast – that’s what’s in store for participants for a special event on July 1. It’s called “Hike Netarts Spit: Dunes, Birds, and More,” and more is indeed what you’ll get out of this six-mile jaunt across one of the region’s most beautiful and remote tracts of sand. (Photos Oregon Coast Beach Connection)

This formation created Netarts Bay, according to Friends of Netarts Bay / WEBS, the group that is putting on this hiking event. It’s an important buffer between the ocean and the bay and serves as a distinctive and integral ecosystem. Friends of Netarts Bay WEBS is partnering with Portland Audubon, Oregon State Parks, and researchers at Oregon State University to share the story of the spit, how it formed and is changing, and share how you can help scientists learn more about the plants and animals using this unique Oregon coast area.

Park rangers will be on hand to relay the story of this park and give you a deeper glimpse.

“The spit is a very dynamic place and ecosystem,” said Chrissy Smith, Executive Director of Friends of Netarts Bay. The farther you walk down, the more immersed you get in the beach, ocean, and dunes. Just a month ago, with Portland Audubon’s guidance, we found snowy plover tracks and nest scrapes. Snowy plovers are listed as a threatened species. Portland Audubon has been recruiting community volunteers to help look for birds and nests. Finding evidence of these birds on the spit is exciting since there has not been a documented nest for many years.”

Also interested in this stretch of wonders are researchers from OSU, who are engaging in ongoing work that involves mapping the different beach grasses that thrive on dunes around the Oregon coast. You’ll also get to hear from them as they join the walk to discuss the native and nonnative beachgrasses, why the type of beachgrass matters, and what you can do to help scientists learn more about how they are spreading and growing.

“Mapping each of the beachgrasses, which differ in several important key traits, is essential to understanding how they will affect dune functions and services, such as dune shape, coastal protection, and species diversity across Oregon,” said Risa Askerooth, graduate student researcher at OSU. “You likely wouldn’t be able to recognize these dunes 100 years ago, since invasive beachgrasses have changed them so much. These beachgrasses, which were intentionally planted, are causing dramatic changes by stabilizing sand, improving protection forcoastlines, and decreasing habitat for some native species.”

The hike is a little more than six miles to the end of spit (12 miles round trip) and participants should expect to spend a full day exploring and hiking. If you are unsure if you want to commit to the full hike, Netarts Bay WEBS and partners will plan a few stops and offer the option to head back with volunteers to help people get to their cars.

It’s quite a beach journey: learn about plover and beachgrass monitoring efforts, and explore the spit and how it is changing over time.

Basics:

July 1 from 8 am to about 3:30 pm

What to bring: Comfortable walking shoes, water, lunch, and snacks are a must! Binoculars are highly encouraged as a strong focus will be placed on birds! The climate can change quickly along the coast, ranging from warm to cool and breezy, so please bring the gear you need to stay comfortable.

Difficulty: Moderate + due to the length and challenges of walking on soft sands and wet sand. Attendees can opt to join for a portion of this event. This event will take place outdoors. If bad weather develops, an alternate plan will be communicated to the registered participants.

Registration Required: Find the event registration list at www.netartsbaywebs.org/events

Cost: There is no cost to attend this program. Donations are appreciated. From June 15 to September 15, all contributions will be matched by the Charles A. Becker Foundation in support of our organization and programs. Learn more about the Friends of Netarts Bay WEBS matching gift challenge on the website www.netartsbaywebs.org.

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