Overlook Dunes Restoration Project


overlook dunes vicinity map

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In the 1980s the Overlook, later renamed the Oregon Dunes Day-Use Area, was constructed with multilevel platforms that provide views of the open sand, a tree island, and the ocean. The area provides a convenient access point from Highway 101 to a particularly outstanding representation of the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area’s unique scenery. For many of the estimated 500,000 annual visitors to the Oregon Dunes NRA, the Dunes Day-Use Area is their only exposure to the unique geological features of the Oregon Dunes.

European beachgrass, a non-native plant species, was planted along West Coast rivers and roadways in the early 1900s to stabilize the sand. Along the Siuslaw River in the Florence area, there were large beachgrass populations in the 1950s. Other regional plantings, combined with the aggressive nature of the grass, resulted in the spread of this species far beyond the original planting sites, drastically altering natural dune processes and the landscape as it appeared several generations ago. Aerial photographs taken in 1939 show that 20% of the sand dunes was vegetated. Fifty years later, photographs of the same regions reveal vegetation covering over 80% of the sand dunes.

view from a platform at the overlook looking west to the oceanThe high foredunes and accelerated rate of plant growth created by this process resulted in loss of visual quality from the platforms at the day-use area, as well as loss of habitat for native species of plants and animals such as the threatened western snowy plover, and an increased possibility of wildfire in the dunes.

A variety of treatments are planned for the 516 acres within this project area including mechanically scraping the foredunes, use of approved herbicides, and prescribed fire. Monitoring of the project will be used to determine the effectiveness of the treatment methods and to determine followup treatment when needed.


Project Goals

  • Restore natural dune processes
  • Enhance unique scenic and recreational qualities of the Dunes Day-Use Area
  • Restore habitat for the western Snowy Plover and native plant communities
  • Reduce danger from wildlfire in a high-use recreation area



National Guard Dozers scraping foredunes

A unique partnership has resulted from the initiation of this project. The Oregon National Guard was looking for an opportunity to train equipment operators on dozers, scrappers and other heavy equipment.

Over the past several years, approximately 45 acres of foredune has been lowered using National Guard personnel and equipment.


Overlook Dunes Restoration Project Partners:


  • Oregon Army National Guard
  • Siuslaw National Forest
  • Institute for Applied Ecology

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  • Ecosystem Restoration
    We're returning natural functions to altered landscapes, focusing on creating and maintaining healthy ecosystems: estuaries, old growth forests, meadows, coastal dunes.
  • Restoration Projects
    Find out more about individual projects on our Restoration Projects page