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Wauna mill hands over Blind Slough land to Nature Conservancy
Oregon Coast Notes - News

On your way to or from the Oregon Coast stop and paddle the Blind Slough...

Blind Slough

Article and map By Erik Olson / The Daily News

NEAR KNAPPA, Ore. — When Lewis and Clark paddled up the Columbia River in the early 19th century, they were surrounded by giant Sitka spruce trees growing in the marshlands. Over the decades, progress and development ate up much of the swampland along the Pacific Coast, clearing away the trees and valuable habitats for salmon, eagles and beavers.

But at Blind Slough in Clatsop County, acres of the 100-foot tall Sitkas stand as tall as they did in the pioneer days. With the help of a donation by Georgia-Pacific's Wauna mill, the trees at the Blind Slough Swamp Preserve will likely remain that way for decades to come.

The Wauna mill on Wednesday donated 682 acres — more than a square mile — of environmentally sensitive marshland to the Nature Conservancy...

"It's a great place to go and see what the Lower Columbia looked like 150 years ago," Vander Schaaf said

Blind Slough Map

Why You Should Visit Blind Slough

Blind Slough Swamp is the best example of a Sitka spruce swamp remaining in Oregon. Once common in coastal estuaries from Tillamook to Alaska, this habitat type has been mostly lost in Oregon and Washington to logging, diking and other development. The preserve is bordered on three sides by Columbia River sloughs and channels, and it adjoins the Lewis and Clark National Wildlife Refuge.  Blind Slough Swamp is in an area well-known for birding, canoeing and kayaking opportunities.

Lower Columbia River, east of Astoria, in northwest Oregon

897 acres

How to Prepare for Your Blind Slough Visit

During February and March, and again in July and August, the preserve is closed to visitors without permission due to the presence of nesting and fledging bald eagles. May, June and September are the best times to visit. For more information, please see the Nature Conservancy's Preserve Visitation Guidelines.

This preserve is accessible only by canoe or small boat. 

  1. Proceed on Highway 30 to Knappa Junction (85 miles W of Portland and 12 miles E of Astoria).
  2. At the Logger Cafe (on your right) in Knappa Junction, take a right (N).
  3. Drive less than .25 mile and turn right onto Brownsmeade Road.
  4. After one mile, the road forks; bear left and continue towards the river.
  5. Cross a wooden bridge over railroad tracks and go 100 yards to the Knappa Docks.
  6. Try to park on the left.

There is no boat ramp, but kayakers and canoers can carry their craft a few feet down the bank. The floating docks to the right are not for public use. Knappa Docks is on Knappa Slough with Karlson Island, part of Lewis and Clark National Wildlife Refuge, directly across the slough. Warren Slough, east of the docks, takes you into the heart of the preserve. Please respect private property signs and avoid log rafts.  Check tide charts since winds and tides can be strong.

What to See: Plants
The overstory on the preserve is dominated by Sitka spruce, some of which are 400 years old. Younger western red cedar and western hemlock are also present. Along the channels are dense thickets of coast willow, sitka willow, twinberry and nootka rose, with abundant sedges, wildflowers and bulrushes.

What to See: Animals
The preserve provides habitat for an abundance of birds, fish and other wildlife, including bald eagles, osprey, river otter, beaver, coho salmon, nesting yellow warblers, olive-sided flycatchers and rufous hummingbirds.

What the Nature Conservancy Has Done/Is Doing

In 1992 the James River Corporation gave a 672-acre permanent conservation easement to the Conservancy. Hampton Affiliates increased the preserve in 1996 with a gift of 135 acres. A purchase from the Ziak family, which for many years had protected the area for wildlife, completed the preserve. Each spring and summer, teams of volunteers remove invasive blackberry, English ivy and purple loosestrife to protect the native habitats.