The Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area (ODNRA) is 31,500 acres of federal land managed by the Siuslaw National Forest. 86% of this, 27,000 acres, are inventoried roadless areas (but not protected from Off Highway Vehicles, OHV).
The area occupies a strip of coastline approximately 40 miles long and averaging 1 1⁄2 miles wide between Coos Bay and Florence. The 1995 management plan for the Oregon Dunes calls this “a rare and beautiful place. The uniqueness and variety of this extensive system of dunes, streams, freshwater lakes, wetlands, and coastal forests on the shores of the Pacific ocean, make it a world-class attraction.”
The area provides critical habitat for the endangered Snowy Plover as well as nesting habitat for the threatened Marbled Murrelet. Some plant communities in the Oregon Dunes are so rare they have been nominated for Oregon Heritage Sites, representing some of the "rarest and most endangered plant communities in Oregon."
Two main problems threaten the health of the Oregon Dunes. First, non-native European Beach Grass was planted to stabilize the dunes over 50 years ago. It's done too good a job, preventing the dunes from replenishing itself with new sand. Secondly, illegal OHV use is putting this unique and fragile area at risk. Hundreds of miles of non-designated, user-created trails have become human-assisted proliferation of invasive species, harming the unique wildlife and habitats. For more information click here.
- New Line in the Sand in the Oregon Dunes January 23, 2013
- Motorized Recreation in Oregon Dunes is Re-evaluated November 14, 2012
- Oregon Dunes: 2011 updates June 5, 2011