The role of the Forest Center
The region around the Tillamook State Forest has long been known for its unique natural landscapes. Being a rain forest with moderate climate, it belongs to one of the wetlands in the United States. It is especially the western part of the park that is home to a wide range of species. The eastern part is mostly dominated by the so-called Douglasie, an evergreen conifer that may reach a height up to 164 ft (50 m). Based on the ground that the forest allows a large number of animals to find a home here, the executives are well aware of the significance that Tillamook Forest Center has and how important its preservation is. The center follows the principle based on self-made experiences and exploration of nature, which is actually reflected in the learning hubs for children and adults.
About a forest and its history
The center is situated in the heart of the Tillamook State Forest and tells the story of the forest. On-site, you learn about the huge fire that took place in the forest in 1933 which is remembered by the name “Tillamook Burn”. Watching “Legacy of Fire”, you may witness the entire catastrophe. The film is also shown in the forest center. In this context, you learn more about reforestation, which played a huge role between 1949 and 1973 - in order to revitalize the area and not to let it run down as scorched earth. To portray the ever-present danger of forest fire even more vividly, a 12 m high fire watch tower which is freely accessible is set up in the heart of the forest center. You may climb up the tower easily and enjoy a fantastic view from the top of the tower. A further highlight is the 60 m long suspension bridge that leads from the building complex over to the Wilson River. By crossing the bridge you get to many starting points for hiking tours that lead you through the forest, which the area is also famous for.
Information for kids
Tillamook Forest Center is particularly famous for its learning programs which are usually designed for school kids. There are various programs, depending on the age. Even pupils in first grade can embark on an adventure tour leading through the forest. Useful information about the forest is passed on to children playfully by the means of puppet theaters and by playing hare and hounds.
For more advanced classes there are guided tours offered taking them on an individual journey through the forest where they are also taught how to identify the trees of the forest.
The forest center is a major source of information when it comes to forests. It regularly hosts events covering any topic linked to forests, especially fires taking place in forests or elaborating on the leave no trace principles. On any level possible, Tillamook Forest Center is encouraged to take up the challenge with regard to sustainable use of the forest and its inhabitants. It clearly focuses on the potential of future generations and thus is the perfect destination for a day trip. At the same time, you'll notice the remarkable beauty of the place making it one of the most beautiful places in Oregon if not the most beautiful!
The founding fathers of the project
The idea to found a forest center nearby Tillamook was initially born out of the aspiration to pass on valuable information about the area's significant past and portray the unparalleled natural gem in shape of Tillamook State Forest. The planning phase, which was officially managed by the Oregon Department of Forestry (ODF), began back in 1996. The project was additionally supported by Oregon Parks, the Recreation Department and Tillamook Forest Heritage Trust, a non-profit association. The well-chosen team took its time to plan everything as precisely as possible. The team was visiting other visiting centers of the same kind in the vicinity. The project was then thoroughly talked through with specialists for the resources, teachers and other project managers. After this meticulous preparation period, the planning for the concept design began a year later. Slowly but surely, the project came into being.
Realizing the visions
In the project's early state, the experience and reputation of the ODF was of great help. From its very start, the Oregon Department of Forestry was offering innovative educational programs concerning nature and especially forests. As schools are regularly visited for educational purposes, it is estimated that around 6,000 young people receive information about forests each year. This way an already huge potential audience could be reached before the center even opened officially. Being an educational institution, the center was not liable for tax. In the end, the costs for the entire project totaled 10.7 million dollars. In order to achieve smooth processing, funds were partially raised by the Tillamook Forest Heritage Trust and by means of other financial donations.
How to get there
From the direction of Portland
Starting your journey in Portland, you'll approximately need about an hour to get to Tillamook. You first head westwards in the direction of Sunset Highway (US 26), taking you straight to the coast of Oregon. You then take Exit 53 leading to Highway 6. Follow the road for about 29 miles (47 km). Reaching Tillamook, you find the Forest Center situated in close proximity to milestone 22. Carry on in the direction of Creek Campgrounds and soon you'll be standing in front of the center's entrance.
From the direction of Tillamook
If you are already in Tillamook, take Highway 6 leading eastwards. Soon you find the way to the Forest Center signposted. Follow the way until you reach your destination. In case you end up in the area of the Smith Homestead Day Use, you must have missed the right turnoff. Turn around and follow the signs.
By public transport
You can of course use Tillamook's public transport system to explore the Forest Center. Just hop on the bus called “The Wave”, taking you to your destination for only one dollar.