The only salt marsh designated for development on Nehalem Bay will now be protected through a partnership between two coastal land conservation groups.
The North Coast Land Conservancy, a nonprofit that manages lands throughout the North Coast, purchased Botts Marsh on Tuesday on behalf of the Lower Nehalem Community Trust.
The land conservancy will act as a bridge owner, buying the community trust time to complete its due diligence. The community trust plans to buy the property from the land conservancy by October.
Conservation of the marsh achieves a nearly 40-year effort to conserve the 30 acres of intertidal habitat between the bay and U.S. Highway 101 north of Wheeler.
“The Lower Nehalem Community Trust is grateful for North Coast Land Conservancy’s ability to step in at a critical time in the life of this acquisition,” Doug Firstbrook, community trust co-founder and board member, said in a statement.
Botts Marsh is one of the last remaining, unaltered, pristine marshlands, said Katie Voelke, executive director of the North Coast Land Conservancy. It provides habitat for more than 125 bird species and is also important rearing habitat for Chinook and coho salmon.
But the property has a decadeslong history of land use controversy around it, she said.
It had been zoned to allow some marine industrial development, such as a marina. New regulations would likely not have allowed for this kind of development, but the zoning was still there.
The marsh “is in great condition and the goal is to ensure that continues by protecting it,” Voelke said. “By allowing it not to get broken, so it doesn’t have to get fixed.”
The land conservancy will monitor the property while it is under their care, but will have to do little by way of habitat enhancement or restoration.