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A large slip face appears on a tall dune at the Oregon Dunes National Recreation
Area. Slip faces occur when sand piles up to about a 33 degree angle; the dune can no longer hold up and
the sand begins to slip down. I asked a friend to pose here so you could get a sense of the size and scope
of the dune and slip face. Tug is helping in his own dog-way! Photo by Dina Pavlis, April 3, 2009.
A crisscross of patterns seem to flow across the dunes. Formations like these
are called yardangs; they are created when wind and rain etch the sand. Photo by Dina Pavlis,
Oregon Dunes Day Use Area, April 3, 2009.
A sandboarder pilots her sandboard down a tall dune at Sand Master
Park in Florence, Oregon. Sand Master Park has the distinction of being the world's first sandboarding
park. A popular destination in Florence, Oregon, the park offers 40 private acres of sculpted sand dunes,
a 40' ramp, pro shop, rentals and lessons! Visit their
for more photos and information. Photo by Lon Beale, aka Dr. Dune (used with permission).
Black bears (like this female caught on film in my backyard) are sometimes
seen on the Oregon Dunes. Usually, if seen in the open, they are moving between the forest and
tree islands or the deflation plain. More often, rather than seeing the bear, you will find
evidence of its passing in the form of bear scat ("poop") or tracks in the sand. This photo
was taken from inside of a house (through a window). If you should happen to encounter a bear,
do not approach it. Instead, try not to look directly into its eyes as you back away.
In most cases, the bear will attempt to avoid you. Attacks are rare, but can occur if the bear is cornered
or has cubs (such as this one...can you see one of the cubs in the grass behind her)? Dogs should
always be on a leash during bear season (Spring through Fall). A bear will kill a dog if it is
chased and feels threatened, has cubs, or cannot escape up a tree. Photo by Katy Pavlis, June 3, 2009,
Yellow sand-verbena (Abronia latifolia) is blooming on the dunes right now.
"Abronia," Greek for "delicate" or "graceful," is an appropriate name for this beautiful, creeping
plant. The leaves of the plant are hairy, fleshy and thick. There is a pink-flowered variety
(Abronia umbellata) that is less common on the dunes. The pink variety has disappeared from most areas
due to invasive species such as European beachgrass. Efforts to re-establish the pink variety on dunes
near Coos Bay has been fairly successful. Yellow sand-verbena can be found in various areas of the dunes,
including dry open sand (usually near other plants such as lupine...the star-shaped leaves shown in this
picture) as well as on foredunes near the beach. It dies back in winter and is only visible from spring
to fall. Photo by Dina Pavlis, June 10, 2009, dunes north of Florence, Oregon.
Prior to the appearance of towns and non-native plant species, vast amounts of
sand covered our region. In many places, sand had moved as far inland as three miles (5 km). Many of
those areas are now covered by pavement, structures and plants. Impeding sand movement allowed non-developed
open sandy areas to turn into forest, wetlands and other vegetated states. Go inland about three miles,
however, and dig down and you will find evidence of the dunes that once thrived there. Photo by Dina Pavlis,
Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area, December 8, 2007.
Introduced to the Northwest Coast from Europe, Common Foxglove
(Digitalis purpurea) is blooming now in the Oregon Dunes. Found mostly along
disturbed areas at the eastern edge of the dunes, this tall, striking flower stops
most visitors in their tracks. Foxglove is known for its contribution to medicine in
the form of digitalis, a pharmaceutical that is derived from this plant and is used to
treat large numbers of people who suffer from heart disease. In its native, unprocessed
form, the foxglove is actually quite poisonous; it contains cardiac glycosides that affect
circulation and muscle tissue. Although it is not currently listed as an invasive or noxious
species by the State of Oregon, it is a non-native plant and, for that reason, may be considered
undesirable by some people. Photo by Dina Pavlis, Oregon Dunes Day Use Area, June 27, 2009.
At first glance, this photo of rippled sand may appear uninteresting or
unimportant. The picture is, however, an important study as to how different grains of sand
move across the dunes. Here, the darker grains (made up largely of magnetite) move differently.
This is because the darker grains are heavier. The lighter sand (consisting mostly of quartz and
feldspars) blows forward in the wind, while the darker, heavier grains remain in place. Photo by
Dina Pavlis, Oregon Dunes Day Use Area, July 2, 2009.
Visitors explore a dry seasonal pond during a guided walk on the Oregon Dunes.
Seasonal ponds fill with water in winter when aquifers below the dunes rise up due to heavy winter rains.
They dry out in summer, but remain a distinct part of the landscape due to the rushes, sedges and willows
that thrive in the wet sand. Guided dune walks can be scheduled by calling the Oregon Dunes Visitor Center
in Reedsport, Oregon (541-271-3611). Photo by Dina Pavlis, Oregon Dunes Day Use Area, July 2, 2009.
Sand in this picture is blowing inland from the shore. There are three elements
that must exist for the Oregon Coast to have dunes: Sand supply, wind and a flat coast line (to allow
the sand to blow in). About 45% of the Oregon Coast is flat; wherever the coast is flat, we have dunes
because we have strong summer winds and ample sand. Sand buries all it encounters (such as this log as
well as inland forests). This creates dunes and is called the dune process. Photo by Dina Pavlis, North
of Florence, June 18, 2009.
In areas where European beachgrass has not yet spread, the Oregon Dunes look much
like they used to...wave after wave of transverse dunes. Unfortunately, even pristine areas like this are
changing because the beachgrass is preventing new sand from entering the area. For now, though, the dunes
in this stretch are free to rise, dip and swirl in their native way. Photo by Dina Pavlis, Oregon Dunes near
Florence, July 27, 2009.
Beach carrot (Glehnia littoralis ssp. leiocarpa) is one of the plants
that grabs the attention of visitors this time of year. Blooms are white clusters of tiny flowers
that produce a colorful reddish to orange fruit where seeds are housed. Beach carrot is also called
beach silver-top (Glehnia leiocarpa), although the silvery appearance is on the undersides of the leaves,
where the plant is covered with white, woolly hairs. This is one of my favorite plants because it is so
darned interesting; I can't help but get excited every time I see it. Photo by Dina Pavlis, July 6, 2009,
Oregon Dunes Day Use Area.
Sand inches forward each windy day during the summer. It buries the forest and then, sometimes,
it blows out and exposes what it originally covered. Photo by Dina Pavlis, Oregon Dunes north of Florence,
July 27, 2009.