As the days continue to get longer and the signs of spring start budding all along the Tillamook Coast, the Explore Nature Series is gearing up for another jam-packed season of guided hikes, walks and paddles.

The series works with a consortium of volunteer organizations to offer community events that showcase the beauty of the Tillamook Coast and educate visitors on how to enjoy these spaces responsibly.

Several favorite events are returning again in 2019, including the ever-popular Lichen Hike on Saturday, April 6, at Nedonna Marsh.

This beginner-friendly hike is led by Maysa Miller, the Northwest Oregon Restoration Partnership Coordinator at Tillamook Estuaries Partnership. Miller has been helping people discover the many wonders of lichen for several years.

“Once you realize how fascinating lichen are, and the diverse types of species that are out there, it changes the way you look at the landscape around you,” she said.

This year’s lichen hike is offered in conjunction with the Tillamook County Pioneer Museum, which recently acquired the Nedonna Marsh site. Spots on this hike are limited and registration is required.

Participants will to learn what exactly a lichen is, how to identify different types and get a grounding in the ecological components that make lichen so important for the environment.

“This symbiotic relationship of fungi, algae and other organisms is more than just a collage of pretty colors and textures,” Miller said. “it’s a valuable indicator of an area’s air quality, nitrogen supply and ecological integrity. An old growth forest can have up to 500 pounds of a single lichen species living in it.”

Also returning this season is Shop at the Dock — Garibaldi, this time with several dates planned, starting with Saturday, April 13.

“Part of our focus this season with the Shop at the Dock tours is to really look at the shoulder and off season and help bring some attention and insight to those fisheries that make up a big part of the income at the Port of Garibaldi,” said Alix Lee, community education coordinator for Tillamook Estuaries Partnership. “So depending on the time of year, the tour might focus on Dungeness Crab, tuna, or salmon.”

The Explore Nature series will include a host of other events throughout the year, from “potting parties” at the Tillamook Estuary Partnership’s nursery to gardening days at Alder Creek Farm and a Cape Meares Lighthouse Celebration.

“Our goal with all of these events is to help educate people about the natural area,” said Chrissy Smith of Friends of Netarts Bay, “but also if they want to get involved we have ways to do that too.”

Friends of Netarts Bay will be bringing back the clamming clinic for newbie clammers in April, tidepool discovery days in Oceanside, oyster tours of Netarts Bay and guided kayak trips, some of which will have a bird focus for those interested in migratory bird habits.

“In June we’re hosting ‘Ancient plants of the Oregon Coast’ with a local botany expert,” Smith said. “It’s a great opportunity to go out and learn about plants that have a long evidence of being here and talk about how they’ve evolved, or not evolved over time.”

A full list of events can be found at explorenaturetillamookcoast.com.

Explore Nature Series programs are paid for in part by Visit Tillamook Coast, the Economic Development Council of Tillamook County and the Travel Oregon Forever Fund.

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