Sitka Spruce (Picea sitchensis)

The Sitka spruce is a remarkable tree found on Oregon’s coastline. Named for the Sitka Sound in Alaska, this tree typically grows in a narrow strip of the coast from southern Alaska to northern California. It is able to grow in this environment because its needles and bark are resistant to salt spray.

Sitka spruce wood has many unique qualities that allow it to be used in a variety of different ways. Because the wood is very strong for its weight it is frequently used in aircraft frames, racing shells and ladders. The wood is also an excellent conductor of sound and is used in pianos, organs, guitars and violins.

Next time you listen to music or take a flight think about the Spruce tree and take the opportunity to walk among these wonderful trees next time you visit Coastal Oregon.

The Giant Spruce of Cape Perpetua was recently designated an Oregon Heritage Tree. According to Oregon Coast Magazine, this tree is easily accessed by hiking 1 mile along the Spruce Trail from the Cape Perpetua Visitor Center, which is just off Highway 101, 3 miles south of Yachats.

Last month, Dr. Scott Reed, Vice Provost for University Outreach and Engagement and Director of OSU Extension, visited the South Coast to learn more about the unique partnerships working to grow the tourism and outdoor recreation economy in the region. Dr. Reed met with Jim Seeley and Marie Simonds of the Wild Rivers Coast Alliance to talk about their work with OSU Extension.

You can watch a longer video about collaboration around tourism and economic development featuring OSU Extension Associate Professor of Tourism and Business Development here.

Gray Whale

People come from all over the world to learn about the gray whales that travel along the Oregon coast. This year the spring Whale Watching Week takes place March 25, 2017-April 1, 2017. During this time “Whale Watching Spoken Here” volunteers are stationed at great whale watching sites up and down the coast to provide assistance in spotting whales from shore. You may also want to get out on the water with one of the Charter Boats offereing Whale Watching Tours! 

Whales are visible from Oregon’s shores all year long although some months are better than others. In the winter we watch nearly 20,000 gray whales from mid-December through mid-January as they travel south to the warm lagoons of Baja, Mexico. Spring watching begins in late March as the gray whales travel north on their way to Alaska. The first surge swims by around the end of March and we watch the north-bound whales all the way until June.

Check out this map for a list of 24 designated locations volunteers will be staffed during the upcoming Whale Watching Week, including the location nearest you.