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The Clay Myers State Natural Area at Whalen Island is a remarkable place. A virtually untouched coastal estuarine ecosystem, it is bounded by the Sand Creek estuary. This is critically valuable habitat for adult salmon moving upstream to spawn and for smolt leaving the inland fresh waters for their marine journey. The area is a ecological potpourri, including mixed woodlands, grasslands, fresh and saltwater wetlands (the Lillian Parker Craft Wetland) and a rare native dune sedgeland. Species run the gamut from salmon and steelhead to shorebirds to deer, otter, and even bear and cougar.
Named after Clay Myers (Oregon Secretary of State 1967-77 and State Treasurer 1977-84), the site joined Oregon's park system in 2000, thanks to a $2.8 million dollar partnership between the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department (OPRD), Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board, Federal Highway Administration, National Park Service, Tillamook County Board of Commissioners, and the Trust for Public Lands. For the first time, OPRD relied on the state lottery-backed Parks & Natural Resource Fund to pay for a major addition to the state park system. The site was purchased from sisters Kathleen Craft Shaw and Karen Derungs, who worked with the Trust for Public Lands to assure permanent protection of the area in honor of their mother Lillian Parker Craft.