Governor Kitzhbaber Joins Whalen Island Celebration

Whalen Island, OR – Today the Trust for Public Land, the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department, and the Tillamook County Board of Commissioners are hosting a celebration to mark the protection of the 180-acre Whalen Island property and the creation of one of Oregon’s most significant new coastal state parks in over 25 years. Governor John Kitzhaber is attending the event along with the broad coalition of federal, state and local partners that made this project possible.

The Whalen Island acquisition marks the Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board and Oregon Parks and Recreation Department’s first significant use of Measure 66 funding for land acquisition in the state of Oregon. The source of agency funds was provided jointly by the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department (Measure 66 for Parks funds), a grant from the Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board (Measure 66 Salmon funds), a Federal Highway Administration Mitigation Grant to the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department, and the National Park Service provided matching grant funds to Oregon State Parks through the Land and Water Conservation Fund. In addition to funding the federal acquisition of authorized national parks and other conservation and recreation areas, the LWCF provides matching funds to state agencies and local communities for the acquisition, development, and conservation of parks and open space.

“TPL is proud to have worked with Oregon State Parks and Recreation, the National Park Service, Tillamook County, the Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board, and the Federal Highway Administration to preserve this treasured piece of the Oregon landscape,” says TPL project manager Sam Hodder. “Whalen Island is the centerpiece of Sand Lake Estuary and provides critical salmon habitat, spectacular scenery and beautiful, open beaches for the public to enjoy. Today’s event celebrates this incredible resource, and the local, state and federal partnership that protected it for the people of Oregon.”

Whalen Island is located in the biologically rich Sand Lake estuary — one of only two major estuaries in Oregon designated as “natural” under the state’s estuary management plan because of its pristine condition. A remarkable diversity of anadroumous fish species use the estuary: steelhead, searun cutthroat trout, coho, chum and chinook salmon, all presumed native, migrate through Sand Lake. Great blue herons wade through the slow moving waters while other shorebirds scurry across the sand searching for food. Various species of duck use the vast marshes of Whalen Island for cover and feeding ground. Bald eagles and peregrine falcons use the island’s wooded interior for perch sites and the meadows for foraging. The preservation of this property ensures that generations of Oregonians will be able to enjoy these natural treasures.

Founded in 1972, the Trust for Public Land (TPL) specializes in conservation real estate, applying its expertise in negotiations, public finance, and law to protect land for public use and enjoyment. Headquartered in San Francisco and with 33 offices nationwide, including Portland, TPL has helped protect more than 1 million acres of land for public use.