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 page 10), 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

Reports & Resources

History of Cape Meares Lake by John Harland

Cape Meares Crossing- Snapshots of a Wetland Community by Wendy Burroughs

Important Information about Septic Systems in Cape Meares – by Simone Goldfeder


There is an early June 2024 deadline for applications for grants or 0% interest loans to address failing septic systems from a $1.5M grant awarded to Tillamook County.
Tillamook County, in partnership with the Community Action Team are offering loans and grants for septic repair and replacement financing to eligible property owners in Clatsop, Columbia, and Tillamook counties.  Homeowners and small businesses may qualify for 0%, 30-year term, deferred (no) payment loans or grants to address failing septic systems. One property owner in Cape Meares has already received grant funds to replace their leaky system! (Leonnig Excavating Inc. was the subcontractor and helped the homeowner get the grant; they currently 5 other applications submitted in Tillamook County). 
If your house was built prior to mid 1970s (before septic permits were required) and your septic system has not been replaced – it is most likely your system had failed even if you don’t know it. See attached map showing Age of Structures in Cape Meares. Map does not show the age of the Septic system, though the two could correlate.
Failed or leaky systems can pollute your property and adjacent properties, can put your property at risk for slides (if on slopes), can reduce your land values and can pollute our creeks, lake, bay and  ocean – without us even knowing it. In our unique Cape Meares community, we wanted to get the word out as its vital for the health of our watershed! 
This is a rare opportunity, for eligible homeowners – through limited grant funding – if you meet financial and residency eligibility! For more information, simple screening and application, CALL 503-410-5833 or GO TO: Septic-Repair-Replacement-Program-Brochure
March 2024 Update

Simone Goldfeder and Miriam Fultz have been researching the history of Cape Meares Lake, Bayocean Spit, and Tillamook Bay. They presented the preliminary results of their research at the February CMCA meeting and at the lake team meeting in March 2024. They plan to make the PowerPoint available online in the near future. Pete Steen reported addition historical background and current research on Bayocean spit.

Historical Photographs of Tillamook Bay and Bayocean Spit and the beginnings of what is now known as Cape Meares Lake.

Circa 1926 – 1939
Oregon Historical Society: Brubaker Aerial Surveys (Portland, OR). Photograph albums of Umpqua River Jetty construction and Brubaker aerial survey of Northwest coast, Org. Lot 1424, Album 452, Page 20, licensed by the Oregon Historical Society, https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/4.0/.
Circa 1926 – 1939 (colorized and cropped via Adobe Photoshop 2024 by Miriam Fultz) Oregon Historical Society: Brubaker Aerial Surveys (Portland, OR). Photograph albums of Umpqua River Jetty construction and Brubaker aerial survey of Northwest coast, Org. Lot 1424, Album 452, Page 20, licensed by the Oregon Historical Society
Circa 1926 – 1939 the circled area is highlighting the connections of the creek, wetland, and what would become Cape Meares Lake, to Tillamook Bay and the Pacific Ocean. (colorized and cropped via Adobe Photoshop 2024 by Miriam Fultz) Oregon Historical Society: Brubaker Aerial Surveys (Portland, OR). Photograph albums of Umpqua River Jetty construction and Brubaker aerial survey of Northwest coast, Org. Lot 1424, Album 452, Page 20, licensed by the Oregon Historical Society

December 2023 – January 2024 Lake Team Activities

Members of the Lake team met in December and January. John Harland and Wendy Burroughs met with Manual Padilla with Oregon Solutions and Tillamook County Commissioner Mary Faith Bell. It was agreed that the CM Lake Team would get back to Commissioner Bell with an outline for the proposed Cape Meares Lake Stakeholder meeting or Community Conversation about Cape Meares Lake.

Update November 2023

The Lake Management Team led by John Harland is working with Oregon Solutions to interview potential stakeholders for this project. The Team has proposed using these questions to interview potential stakeholders.

What are your responsibilities for and interests in Cape Meares Lake? Would you be willing to participate in developing a Lake Management Plan?

What do you see as the main uses and benefits of a healthy Cape Meares Lake? What are your concerns about lake health. How will the lake change in the next 20 years?

What are the indicators of Cape Meares Lake health that you use or would like to use? Do you collect this data? If so, will you share?

Draft CMCA Proposal (7-2023) to engage stakeholders in the development of a management plan for Cape Meares Lake and associated wetlands.

Background on the ODFW response to invasive Eurasian watermilfoil

Oregon Fish and Wildlife Assistant District Fish Biologist Michael Sinnott presented, at the May 2023 CMCA meeting, the ODFW 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 MapInvasive 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 2023 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.

Cape Meares Lake Photo Gallery