Cape Meares Forest

Cape Meares Community Forest

In 2007, Stimson Lumber Company contacted the Cape Meares Community Association (CMCA)  to determine if there was interest in receiving a donated parcel of land from their property which was located in the middle of an ancient landslide.  Because CMCA was not a 501(c)(3) association at the time the donation of the land had to first be accepted by Tillamook County Board of Commissioners  This transaction took place on August 30, 2007.   The parcel is located a short distance south of the Cape Meares community and is shown above in the screen grab.  

The road shown on the map is the currently closed Loop Road and is the southern border of the property.  Size of the donated property is 106.5 acres. The identification number for the property is 800.  

After the Tillamook Country Board of Commissioners accepted the parcel in August they decided to dedicate a portion for County Road Purposes (Loop Road) and then transferred the land to CMCA on October 3, 2007. 

The Tillamook County Board of Commissioners specified that the parcel was to be “for open space for perpetual public use” pursuant to ORS 27.033(3).

On February 25, 2011.  Chris  Spence, CMCA president in 2015, was contacted by the Tillamook County Assessment and Taxation Department regarding the property.  Since the parcel was accepted by CMCA as a tax exempt parcel  the Articles of Incorporation for CMCA includes language about the donated land being used for public recreational purposes.  The current CMCA Bylaws do not include information regarding the property although one of the missions of CMCA is to promote ecologically sound stewardship of the community’s natural resources.

Chris Spence contacted Tim Williams who was the president of CMCA back in 2007 at the time the donation of the land by Stimson took place and asked him about the land deal.  This is the reply Spence received from Williams:  “The land was offered by Stimson, free to the community, as a gesture of good will.  It was discussed and sorted on by the attendees at a monthly meeting way back when.  As president I was asked to make it happen, which I did.  In keeping with the no development mind set, the thought was we, as a community, could control use.  At the time we did have liability insurance for the property as a part of the insurance on the school house.”

In 2015 the land was valued at $16,020 by Tillamook County.  The property may not have the lumber on the land harvested for profit.  Zoning regulations prevent any structures being erected on the parcel.  

Since the space has been designated as public space it is not possible to post “No Trespassing” signs.

CMCA had until April 1 of 2016 to file a new application for tax exemption and to modify the existing Bylaws to be in compliance with the Assessment and Taxation Department of Tillamook County.  CMCA must be organized for the purpose of maintaining and operating a public park.  Two additional changes were to be made in the CMCA Bylaws.

  • The Bylaws need to have a dissolution statement that says the property will go back to the state or to another public entity if CMCA dissolves.
  • There needs to be use restrictions in the CMCA Bylaws to limit any proceeds from sale (or use?) to to to a public park or public agency.  (The above two points taken from February 21, 2015 CMCA Minutes.)

Liability Arrangements for Property

Since the time the parcel was accepted by CMCA, liability insurance has been purchased which is a part of an insurance package that covers the Community Center (School House).  (May 9, 2015 CMCA Minutes.)

On August 15, 2015 the CMCA met and heard a report regarding the Community Park.  Below is a summary of the information discussed related to the issue of liability.

Pete Steen , a local Cape Meares attorney, who admitted that he was not an expert on land use matters, provided information about a law relevant to the Cape Meares Park.  ORS 105.682 states that land used for recreational purposes is exempt from liability.  Here’s a summary of the Oregon law:  “Except as provided by subsection (2) of this section and subject to the provisions of ORS 105.688 (Applicability of immunities from liability for owner of land) an owner of land is not liable in contract or tort for any personal injury, death, or property damage that arises out of the use of the land for recreational purposes, gardening, woodcutting, or the harvest of special forest products when the owner of land either directly or indirectly permits any person to use the land for recreational purposes, gardening, woodcutting or the harvest of special forest products.  The limitation on liability provided by this section applies if the principal purpose for entry upon the land is for recreational purposes, gardening, woodcutting, or the harvest of special forest products, and is not affected if the injury, death, or damage occurs while the person entering land is engaging in activities other than the use of the land for recreational purposes, gardening, woodcutting, or the harvest of special forest products….(5) ‘Recreational purposes’ includes, but is not limited to, outdoor activities such as hunting, fishing, swimming, boating, camping, picnicking, hiking, nature study, outdoor educational activities, water skiing, winter sports, viewing or enjoying historical, archaeological, scenic, or scientific sites or volunteering for any public purpose project.”   

Maintenance of Community Park

One of the missions of is the Cape Meares Community Association is promoting ecologically sound stewardship of the community’s natural resources.  This stewardship includes the park land and the primary Upper Lighthouse Trail that runs from the south end of 5th Street in the Cape Meares up to the Loop Road.  From there it is possible to find several additional trails not on land owned by the community that lead to the Octopus Tree or on to the Cape Meares Lighthouse.  

In the summer of 2017 an offer was made by a scout group to assist the community in doing maintenance on the Lighthouse Trail.  A year earlier a large section of the trail washed away during a rainy winter season and portions of the trail were very muddy during the winter rain season.  The scouts offered their assistance that also included several adults who served as advisors of the group.  

The first portion of the work they did was to create a by-pass around the washed out trail.  Pictured below is the opening for this by-pass area.

The second major chore of the maintenance project was the building of a land bridge over a portion of the trail that is excessively muddy during the winter rainy season.  

This picture was taken in 2017 when the bridge was nearly completed.  The bridge was well built and sill is in good condition after three years of use.  

In February of 2020, concern was raised by friends of the Cape Meares Community Park and the Lighthouse Trail that mountain bike activity had been observed on portions of the trail and that there had also been new trails constructed on the park property.  Concern was raised about personal safety of hikers and mountain bikers being on the same trails possibly at the same time.  There was also concern that the mountain biking activity might have a serious erosion effect on the park property.  

There is confirmation (February, 2020) that mountain bike tracks were found on the trail and that further efforts were being made to find diversions over very muddy sections on the trail.  The first evidence appears in the photo below.  

In another section of the trail that is very muddy during rainy months a drainage ditch was created as illustrated by the cut-out on the right of the picture.  

At least two new trails were observed.  The new trails that were found had not involved any extensive clearing of land so that general terrain in the area had not been disturbed.  The first of the pictures is a pathway that diverted from the main trail which was to the left of this Y-point.  

The last of the new-found trails was one that was accessed from the now closed Loop Road.  The photo below shows the origin of the trail.  This is a trail from the south edge of the park and winds down several hundred feet and connects with the last portion of the Lighthouse trail.  

The recent concerns of Cape Meares residents and Community Park enthusiasts suggests that further discussion regarding this property should occur.  There may also be a need for CMCA to seek advice from a land-use attorney who would be able to provide guidance regarding whether it is possible to place restrictions on how a park may be used and whether it is possible for both hikers and mountain bikers to safely use the same trails.  

Another suggestion is for there to be a group of volunteers charged with making recommendations to CMCA regarding Community Park-related matters.  

Documents Related to Cape Meares Community Park

Property Tax Exemption Document