I took a walk through Beaver Creek Natural Area today and was pleased to find hundreds, if not thousands, of Cinnabar Moths busily consuming tansy ragwort. The noxious weed has long been a bane to coastal ecosystems and is now nearly eradicated from this protected area.
Now imagine my chagrin at seeing a 14-inch pipeline awaiting burial for the new Beaver Creek Water Project alongside the road on my drive home. It seems river water will soon be converted to drinking water by the Seal Rock Water District.
Beaver Creek is changing. Invasive nutria, left uncontrolled for years, have drastically altered the flora of this wetland. In years past, deepening of the channel across the beach has increased water flow from the creek, flushing out animal wastes and other sediments that now accumulate on the ever-rising creek bed.
Algae grows in great rafts in the warmer, nutrient-enriched, slower moving water. Mallard ducks have proliferated, much to the enjoyment of a constant stream of kayakers quietly paddling plastic boats. Cutthroat trout abound, growing fat on the unique and abundant shrimp and mosquito fish produced here. Despite increasing visitation and development, wild coho salmon still spawn in her upper reaches by the thousands each fall.
One has to wonder, who dictates the comprehensive management plan for our coastal gem — Seal Rock Water District, Lincoln County Soil and Water District, State of Oregon, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service?
It is said that no man ever steps in the same river twice, for it’s not the same river, and he’s not the same man. So next time you drive over the Ona Beach Bridge on Highway 101 south of Newport, blow a kiss goodbye to the creek we once knew. It won’t be the same for long.