The Columbia Land Trust has secured the funding to purchase about 90 acres of South Tongue Point for wildlife habitat and a living laboratory for Clatsop Community College.
The land trust recently received $1 million from a national grant program run by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to restore and preserve coastal ecosystems. The grant goes through the state Watershed Enhancement Board, which also provided a $332,000 match.
Dan Roix, conservation director for the land trust, said the group has submitted an application to the state Land Board for a hearing to buy the property, which is located south of Liberty Lane. The Columbia River Estuary Study Taskforce will oversee the restoration of South Tongue Point, created between the mid-1940s and ’70s by dredge spoils along a deep-water channel of the Columbia River.
“Once the initial restoration and stewardship happens, the hope is the site will be ecologically self-sustaining,” Roix said.
There are several grant sources the land trust will look at to pay for the restoration. Many of the task force’s projects are funded by the Bonneville Power Administration. The agency is required to fund habitat restoration as an offset to the impact of its hydroelectric dams along the Columbia and Snake rivers.
Christopher Breitmeyer, the college president, said it is waiting for an appraisal and hopes to go before the Land Board in October to buy the land under the Marine and Environmental Research and Training Station on the north side of Liberty Lane. The college has rented the land for its career-technical campus since its construction in the mid-1990s.
The restored wetlands will be a major component of an environmental sciences program the college is developing. Breitmeyer said the program will likely focus on helping students transfer to universities, while providing certificates in areas such as resource management and ecological restoration.
“We are just starting that process, looking at potential curricular paths and identifying degree and certificate paths,” he said. “We can move forward without the land acquisition, but having ownership allows us to have access to a living lab.
“We are grateful to the land trust for partnering on the land on the other side of Liberty Lane. This habitat is critical to so many species and allows for some real good science to be done by our students.”