BEAVER CREEK — At Brian Booth State Park, both the boat launch on North Beaver Creek Road and the Ona Beach day-use area were crowded and busy last Sunday afternoon. The parking lots were filled to capacity with hikers, beachgoers and paddlers of all sorts. Families were spotted unloading picnics and beach toys.
A variety of wildlife makes the area home, including river otter, beaver, elk, deer, coyote and “the occasional black bear and cougar,” Oregon State Parks and Recreation Department’s recreation guide for Beaver Creek State Natural Area details.
Naturalists and photographers will find subjects in varying ecosystems. Birders making their way through the marshes and meadows with binoculars can discover an array of migratory and resident birds, including falcons, hawks, swans and geese. The park’s website has a birding checklist that indicates birds and the seasons to spot them. Many species can be seen all year.
At Brian Booth State Park, “the beach and marsh are an integral part of the Beaver Creek Watershed that connect old-growth forests, coastal areas and marsh habitats,” the recreation guide explains. There’s a wild stretch of beach and almost six miles of hiking trails, from easy and flat to the moderately difficult half-mile Snaggy Point Loop that ascends 360 feet to what is reported to be an epic view of the ocean and the marsh below.
Newport resident Scotty Richardson was spotted in a pedal-powered vessel, fishing for cutthroat trout, also known as searun blueback. He’d just caught one, he said on Sunday afternoon.
Also seen on Beaver Creek Sunday afternoon were many ducks, a large turtle, cormorants and a bald eagle, as well as dozens of paddlers of all sorts. Many of the paddleboarders were sitting or kneeling rather than standing, particularly as they headed back to the boat launch.
Noelle Nokes, 13, of Portland, was kneeling, riding on a stand-up paddleboard with her dad, Tony. They explained that people often get cold or tired of continued standing, especially in wind. Tony indicated that he generally prefers the family’s folding canoe his wife was using. With inflatable paddleboards and the folding canoe, it’s relatively easy for the family to get out on the water. Although they were spending the week along the coast, Noelle said the family paddles regularly at home, too. Blake, 10, was up ahead, sharing his board with the family dog, a golden doodle named Chandler.
Certainly, the inflatable craft seemed easier to transport. Stepladders and joint effort was needed to hoist kayaks up onto the roof of an SUV. A couple struggled to carry a canoe to launch. A surprising number of dogs were observed on paddlecraft, four or five of them, and one splashing near the launch.
There are three miles of flat water to peacefully meander along Beaver Creek. It should be noted that it’s much more difficult paddling against the current, and paddlers should be aware of tides that could create hazardous conditions.
While it is free to park and to launch at Beaver Creek and many other local waterways, effective Jan. 1 of this year, a Waterways Access Permit is required of all paddlecraft, which the state defines as stand-up paddleboards, rafts, drift boats, kayaks, canoes … anything 10 feet long and longer.
One and two year permits, $17 and $30, can be purchased through the Oregon State Marine Board online. A seven-day permit is $7. All permits can be purchased through Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife’s e-licensing system, offices and license agents. “Fees will fund the aquatic invasive species prevention program and waterway access grants for non-motorized boating facility grant projects,” oregon.gov explains. Enforcement will begin Aug. 1, and the fine for not carrying a permit when on the water will be $115.
The Marine Board reports revenues will also be used to support boating facility grants “for the acquisition of property, leases, or easements in order for the public to access waterways and construction and maintenance of boating access facilities. Funds will also be available for public bodies and nonprofit entities to develop safety education courses and to purchase boating equipment to reduce barriers for underserved communities who wish to offer recreational boating through other local programs.”
Trails and the boat launch are open for “limited, daytime use.” Currently, the nature center is closed, and guided kayak tours have been canceled. Oregon State Parks advises calling ahead to verify services.