Oregon Nature, On The Water November 24, 2020
Thanks To The Beach Bill, Oregon’s Beautiful Coastline Is Available For Everyone To Enjoy
The Oregon coast stretches for 363 miles, and it offers a varied landscape that includes flat, sandy shoreline, rugged, rocky terrain, and even impressive dunes that soar to heights of up to 500 feet.
Thanks to the Oregon Beach Bill, every single one of the Beaver State’s beaches are accessible to the public. Keep reading to learn more!
In the mid-1960s, many Oregonians were surprised to hear that private landowners had the right to keep the public off parts of the beach.
Governor Oswald West had made Oregon's beaches a "public highway" back in 1913, and it was generally thought that the measure kept the beaches accessible to all. That wasn't the case - the law said that only the wet sand portion of the beach was protected.
In 1966, the owner of the Surfsand Motel in Cannon Beach decided that he would block off through-access to the beach by placing large driftwood logs on the dry sand area between his hotel and the ocean. He posted signs informing the public to stay out.
Governor Tom McCall rolled up his sleeves and got ready for a fight. Private landowners wanted the right to develop the dry sand beaches in front of their properties, but many Oregonians wanted the beach access kept public.
After legislators received thousands of letters and phone calls from the public, demanding that access be kept available to all, lawmakers agreed to hold hearings to determine a public right-of-way.
Oregon Republicans and Democrats compromised, and decided that an easement to the vegetation line would be established for public right-of-way.
After a year-long battle, the Beach Bill passed on June 7, 1967. It was signed into law on July 6th of that year.
Today, Oregonians and visitors alike enjoy the beaches along the Beaver State's coastline. From the artistic beauty of Circles in the Sand in Bandon, to the haunting beauty of the Peter Iredale's resting place on the beach at Fort Stevens State Park, the beaches of Oregon are accessible to everyone.
What’s your favorite Oregon beach? Tell us in the comments!
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