Stabilized Dune at Fort Stevens State Park
Stabilization of Clatsop County’s coastal dunes was the primary work project of CCC enrollees from Camp Warrenton from 1933 to about 1940.
Soon after the completion of the south jetty on the Columbia River in 1913, beach erosion became a significant issue on the county’s coastline as far south as Gearhart, Oregon. Soil scientists encouraged experimentation with planting Holland Dune Grass to stabilize dunes and to prevent road closures and property damage due to blowing sand.
By 1936, soil scientists and local residents already noted improvements. In 1940, the success of the experiment was established. A 1940 article in The Oregonian reported: “There are 3000 acres of so-called dune area from the north edge of the city of Gearhart to the Columbia River. Approximately 1500 acres of this area have been planted to the sand-binding European beach grass, or Holland grass, together with some American dune grass, for test purposes. Over this 1500 acres, “hills” of grass have been planted by hand . . . Vegetative control of this 3000-acre area means the effective protection of at least another 10,000 acres of agricultural, timber, military, recreational and public property inland from it.”
Erosion control efforts also included CCC enrollees placing twenty miles of picket fences (15,000 pickets per mile) to reduce blowing sand. As sand formed around the pickets, they were raised to form a higher, stable outer-dune. This process required management of the dunes over successive years.
"491st Company SCS-7," CCC-Vancouver Barracks Report - 1937. p. 58-59.
Burns, Mac. "The Civilian Conservation Corps in Clatsop County," The Daily Astorian. February 6, 2015. p. 18.
"Science Watches Battle of Dunes: Grass Expected to Conquer Clatsop County Sand," The Oregonian. June 15, 1936. p. 12.
Project originally submitted by Judith T Kenny on February 21, 2022.
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