137 Acres on Kilchis Point Protected (OR)

TILLAMOOK COUNTY, OREGON, 3/11/02 – Last week, the Trust for Public Land (TPL) acquired 137 acres on Kilchis Point and donated the property to the Tillamook County Pioneer Museum Foundation. Thanks to a generous private donation, the historic property will be permanently protected as open space and wildlife habitat. Funding for the entire purchase of the $970,000 Kilchis Point parcel came from an anonymous donor, committed to preserving the history and natural resources of Tillamook Bay.

“Kilchis Point is one of Oregon’s under-sung natural jewels. With increasing development along the Oregon coast, it was essential that we ensure its historic beauty remain intact. Now, this irreplaceable piece of Tillamook County’s history will be preserved forever,” said Chris Beck, TPL project manager.

Located at the mouth of the Kilchis River along Tillamook Bay, the Kilchis Point property is rich with history and culture. For a thousand years, the Tillamook Indians lived a peaceful life on Tillamook Bay, thriving on the abundance of salmon and shellfish and spectacular scenery. Named for Chief Kilchis, one of the most respected members of the Tillamook Tribe, Kilchis Point was the location of the largest settlement of Tillamook Indians. Through the Tillamook Tribe at Elk Creek, Lewis and Clark learned of Kilchis Point. The area is also where Tillamook County’s first pioneer, Joe Champion, made his home in a hollowed out Sitka spruce stump adjacent to the Tillamook village. The first Americans to land on the West Coast were Captain Robert Gray and crew who entered Tillamook Bay on the Lady Washington coming ashore near Kilchis Point in 1788.

As the Tillamook Indians discovered many centuries ago, Kilchis Point is also brimming with ecological resources. Its tidal streams provide abundant habitat for federally listed salmonids and its forests of old growth Sitka spruce are ideal for native bald eagles.

With guidance from the Kilchis Point Advisory Committee, the Tillamook Pioneer Museum will manage the property as an educational, cultural and natural resource property.

“We have been truly blessed with the gift of this treasured place. We are grateful to the Trust for Public Land and the donor for their trust in placing the care of the Kilchis Point area in our hands. These are exciting times for the Museum and for all of us interested in preserving the past and protecting our future,” said Phyllis Wustenberg, Tillamook County Pioneer Museum Foundation chairperson.

Before conveying the property to the museum, TPL placed permanent deed restrictions on the site to prevent residential development while still allowing some existing, non-threatening uses such as grazing.

Conserving the Kilchis Point property received tremendous support from numerous organizations including Oregon Wetlands Joint Venture; Portland Audubon Society; Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife; United States Fish and Wildlife Service; and the Tillamook Bay Performance Partnership.

Preserving Oregon’s Coast

Through its Oregon Coast Program, TPL has helped protect 3,323 acres along Oregon’s coastline with a fair market value of more than $16 million. Last year, TPL completed a number of significant projects on the Oregon coast including helping protect Whalen Island as one of Oregon’s most significant coastal state parks in more than 25 years; working with the City of Depoe Bay to protect important public open space and oceanfront access; and partnering with National Audubon Society to preserve 98 acres of important wildlife habitat and outdoor recreation space near Yachats. Last month, TPL protected 147 acres on Tillamook Bay and is working to conserve an additional 200 acres on the historic inlet.

“Kilchis Point is a noteworthy addition to TPL’s successful coastal conservation efforts. Acquiring this property protects a vital scenic, natural resource and provides an educational opportunity for the public to appreciate Tillamook Bay’s cultural and biological legacy. We couldn’t be more delighted to have spearheaded this effort, and we are most grateful to the donor,” commented Geoff Roach, TPL Oregon Field Office director.

Conserving Land for People

The Trust for Public Land is a private, nonprofit land conservation organization that works across the nation to conserve land for people. Founded in 1972, TPL specializes in conservation real estate, applying its expertise in negotiation, public finance and law to protect land for public use. Working with private landowners, communities and government agencies, TPL has helped protect more than 50,000 acres in Oregon for people to enjoy as parks, playgrounds, community gardens, historic landmarks and wilderness lands.