Cape Meares Lake & Wetlands Planning

A project to engage stakeholders in the development of a Cape Meares Lake-Wetland Management Plan was proposed during the 2023 Cape Meares Community Planning Workshops. The vision for this project, as identified in the 2023 Cape Meares Community Plan (see Plan page 12), is to create a long-term management plan with the goal of a well-functioning lake with a flourishing eco-system from the wetlands to the lake that supports protection of fish, beaver, river otter, osprey and other wildlife, contains weeds and invasive species and assures enough water for recreation.

There is an old deer trail that leads up to the brush in the dunes. It’s a unique view of the lake looking from the North toward south. Cape Meares Lake Ciel Downing
History of Cape Meares Lake

by John Harland
The midden on the south side of Cape Meares Lake indicates this area was an important source of seafood for the local native community for hundreds of years. The lake was originally part of Tillamook Bay, and it was only recently formed as a lake after repair of the erosion of Bayocean Spit that destroyed the town of Bayocean.
Erosion of Bayocean Spit started after the construction of the North Jetty at the entrance to Tillamook Bay in 1917. The erosion caused the destruction of the town of Bayocean and eventually breached the spit at the south end in the 1950’s. When the Army Corp of Engineers built the rock and sand dyke as part of repairing the erosion, a new shoreline forming the east side of the new lake was established. The dunes that form the west boundary of the lake built up after the south Jetty was completed in the 1960’s. The level of the lake was established by construction of a small overflow dam in the SE corner by the lake.
The fresh water of Cape Meares Lake is fed predominantly by Coleman Creek and other streams flowing from Mt Meares. The Coleman Creek watershed, that includes the Creek, wetlands and Cape Meares Lake is the focus of a thriving ecosystem that nurtures a full range of land and aquatic animals. The lake and Tillamook Bay are an important habitat for birds and attract bird watchers from around the state and all over the US. It is a key stopping point for migratory birds as well as home to many year-round residents and transitory raptors. The lake is stocked with triploid rainbow trout by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) and there are self-sustaining populations of Largemouth bass and Bluegill that create popular recreational fisheries. Cape Meares lake is a major tourist attraction with kayaking, paddle boarding, fishing,
bird watching and hiking being some of the favorite activities.
The lake water quality and the ecosystem the lake supports are under threat from the many impacts of climate change. Longer and dryer summers heat the lake and cause more evaporation, which along with invasive weeds, such as Eurasian watermilfoil, water lilies, Japanese knotweed, and yellow flag iris are displacing native vegetation, reducing recreational access, and have the potential to reduce dissolved oxygen in the lake which may have adverse effects on fish and other aquatic species. In winter, more intense storms are causing waves to
overtop the dunes in the village of Cape Meares introducing saltwater and sand. Storms higher up the watershed are causing erosion that silts the lake and chokes wetlands. It is important that we develop a management plan for Cape Meares Lake to mitigate these challenges.

Background on the Oregon Fish and Wildlife response to invasive Eurasian watermilfoil in Cape Meares Lake

Oregon Fish and Wildlife Assistant District Fish Biologist Michael Sinnott presented, at the May 2023 CMCA meeting, the OFW plan to apply chemical treatments to reduce or eradicate invasive Eurasian watermilfoil in Cape Meares Lake.

OFW Presentation Cape Meares Lake Weed Treatment May 2023

OFW Cape Meares Biobase Bath Map

Invasive Chemical Treatment Information

On July 13, 2023, OFW Assistant District Fish Biologist Mike Sinnott and the contractor were prepared to treat Cape Meares Lake and were surprised to find “the Eurasian watermilfoil seems to be all but absent. There were very few milfoil plants present in the lake. We are not sure what the cause is, most likely is that it is just behind in its growth cycle this year possibly due to cold water temperatures in the early spring. The contractor noticed that the lily pads are just starting to grow as well. It is very strange being as the lake has been infested with this plant for the past 4 years (including in March 2022 when we had the survey done) that it is now suddenly absent; neither OFW nor the contractor has seen anything like this before.” OFW postponed the treatment, as there were not enough milfoil plants to make it effective at this time. OFW will be monitoring the lake closely and if the milfoil comes back (or grows) OFW will treat quickly. Just to be clear, there has been NO treatment of the Cape Meares Lake this far by ODFW or Aquatechnex, LLC.

Lake and Wetland Resources and Information

News about Cape Meares, Oregon and the CMCA community association.