Phase 1 of the Rockaway Beach Nature Preserve boardwalk is complete, and the city is hosting a “grand opening” on June 15 at 10 a.m. at the Nature Preserve trailhead, located off Hwy 101 just north of Washington St. in Rockaway Beach.
This preserve began as a gift from The Nature Conservancy in 2000, and with a grant from the Dept. of Land Conservancy and Development the deck around the giant Western Red Cedar was built to protect the tree and its roots.
The Western Red Cedar is estimated to be between 500 to 900 years old and is 154 feet tall and 49 feet around. In 2007, the group Ascending The Giants officially measured the tree and with their rating system gave it 756 points – 130 points higher than the previous Oregon state champion.
The 46-acre Old Growth Cedar swamp was given to Rockaway Beach in Sept 2001 as a unique ecosystem to preserve containing high quality and, in some cases, rare examples of trees unique to the preserve. It is the only type of preserve between Alaska and California for the purpose of protecting a tree. The preserve includes an upland as well as a lowland forest and includes Sitka Spruce, Western Hemlock, Western Red Cedar and Red Alder. There are two streams flowing through the wetlands, Saltair Creek and Heitmiller Creek. The creeks converge just southwest of the viewing platform and flow underneath the boardwalk next to the trail to the giant Western Red Cedar.
Phase 2 of the project will provide a boardwalk connecting the viewing platform to the Western Red Cedar and a replacement deck around the tree. To view a short video of the project, click here.