EO Media Group

More than 250 people celebrated the release of “The Wild Edge: Freedom to Roam The Pacific Coast” Friday night at the Red Loft building in Astoria.

The event, sponsored by the North Coast Land Conservancy, honored “heroes of the coast,” including the land conservancy’s Katie Voelke. Proceeds benefit NCLC’s conservation work on the Oregon Coast.

It was the first event the conservancy has held in Astoria, Voelke said in introductory remarks, and the first event to have an admission fee, in this case, $10 per person. Funds will be used to support the conservancy’s Coastal Edge initiative, designed to protect lands between Tillamook Head and Nehalem Bay to create a corridor of ecological connectivity along the Oregon Coast.

In her opening remarks to the capacity crowd, Voelke described having her “breath taken away” by natural wonders and wildlife, describing the head of a whale as it majestically dove into water near Cannon Beach.

“I feel so grateful to be doing this small work in this small community that I live in,” Voelke said. “I had the humbling experience of being in this book as a conservation hero. The only reason I made it in that book is because you have made it possible. All of you are cultural heroes from this coast also.”

The gala celebrated coastal conservation from Baja to the Arctic, marked by the release of the book, which is a photographic journey from the deep ocean to the summit of coastal-fronting mountains.

Images were displayed as author Bruce Barcott read portions of his introductory essay, among a collection by naturalists and conservationists including Barcott, Philippe Cousteau, Exequiel Ezcurra, Bonnie Henderson, Jon Hoekstra and Eric Scigliano.

“The Wild Edge,” celebrated as the first book on the ocean-based North American wildlife corridor, describes in words and photos the “great Pacific seam of North America that reveals the great Pacific seam of North America from the Baja Peninsula to the Beaufort Sea of Alaska.

Barcott described the genesis of the book and forays of the photographer, Florian Schulz.

In a wide-ranging discussion he touched on national parks, our endangered species and how closed habitats can spell death for a species. “The animals need room to roam outside the boundaries,” he said.

Species enclosed on reserves or wildlife areas, he said, are likely to be extinct within a century, creating the need for corridors to sustain ecosystems.

Schulz, a German-born wildlife photographer, is exhibiting his latest work, “To the Arctic,” at the Anchorage Museum.

Among guests at Friday’s event were the North Coast Land Conservancy’s directors and staff, including wildlife photographer Neal Maine, author Bonnie Henderson and treasurer, the geologist Tom Horning. Local business supporters included Anchor Graphics, Cannery Pier Hotel, North Coast Food Web, Fort George Brewery, Flair and Grizzlies Brand.

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