Coastal Beach and Dune Conservation

Non-native beach grass is removed using a dozer as part of dune restoration at the Leadbetter Point Unit of Willapa National Wildlife Refuge/USFWS Photo

Threatened by an invasion of non-native plant life, Willapa NWR and its partners work to restore fragile coastal dune habitat.

A Little Bit of Restoration Helps a lot of Wildlife 

Tucked into the northern tip of the Long Beach Peninsula, Willapa National Wildlife Refuge is working to restore and maintain the native coastal dune ecosystem.  These efforts have uncovered pink sandverbena, a species of plant thought to have been extirpated from Washington State, and enhanced nesting habitat for western snowy plovers and streaked horned larks. Habitat restoration helps additional plant and animal species, and allows hearty visitors a glimpse of what coastal dunes once looked like.

Restoration is intensive. Of the almost 1,600 acres (648 hectares) of coastal dune habitat, the refuge has restored and currently maintains over 250 acres (101 ha). The refuge plans to restore an additional 200 acres (81 ha) over the next decade. Refuge staff use sprayers, dozers, tillers and dump trucks of oyster shells to remove invasive beach grass, contour the sand and provide camouflage for nesting birds.

See how dunes are restored… 

Keeping Track 

In addition to restoration activities, staff and volunteers monitor populations of western snowy plovers and streaked horned larks. The plover nesting area is closed to public entry between March and September to protect these small, sensitive birds from disturbance.

Pink sandverbena and other native dune plants have been cultivated and monitored, too. As areas are returned to more open, sandy conditions seeds that have lain dormant for years are now starting to sprout and repopulate the restoration area. Some plants have received a helping hand from refuge staff and volunteers. 

Learn more about native dune plant conservation…

Working Together for Wildlife 

Willapa NWR has many partners who help with this conservation goal, including:

Find out how you can get involved...