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Celebrations: 50th Anniversary of Oregon Coast Beach Bill and Public Beaches

Published 07/31/2016 at 6:11 PM PDT - Updated 07/31/2016 at 6:13 PM PDT
By Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

Gleneden Beach, a public beach thanks to 1960's legislation

(Oregon Coast) – Two big anniversaries are being marked on the Oregon coast: one landmark was just celebrated this last week while the most important achievement will be recognized in the coming year. (Above: Gleneden Beach, a public beach thanks to 1960's legislation).

Beach monitoring group CoastWatch and its parent organization Oregon Shores just celebrated 45 years of existence, while the mammoth Oregon Beach Bill will be celebrated all next year. Both turning points in Oregon's history are related, and thus CoastWatch is gearing up for a series of fun and fascinating events – as well as a call for help on a few things.

CoastWatch Executive Director Phillip Johnson said the biggie will be marking the Oregon Beach Bill, Senate Bill 1601. Next year, it will be 50 years since the bill was passed by lawmakers, which happened on June 7, 1967.

“So began a major chapter in the Oregon story, and one that is fundamental to CoastWatch,” Johnson said.

The bill stated that Oregon’s entire shoreline, up to the “statutory vegetation line” (a surveyed line at roughly the 16-foot contour), is open to all. This enabled the vibrant tourism industry for the coast to not only grow but thrive – one which has really blossomed in the last decade to include much stronger visitor numbers even during winters. Public access had major benefits to the environment by keeping the beaches cleaner, and cleaner beaches that were also completely public worked hand in hand to attract more people.

Oregon Shores was formed by veterans of the campaign for Oregon’s pioneering Beach Bill, and by giving access to Oregon’s entire shoreline it made a program like CoastWatch possible. Advocates for protection of these public beaches then set about creating a new watchdog organization, which became an officially recognized non-profit corporation on July 29, 1971.

“We haven’t been making much noise about Oregon Shores’ anniversary, because we’re already focused on next year’s major milestone,” Johnson said.

Johnson said there will be plenty of time to extol the farsightedness of the Beach Bill, and all it has done for Oregon and the shoreline environment, later this year and throughout 2017. He hinted at a lot of things coming down the road.

“Oregon Shores evolved from the citizen campaign for the Beach Bill, so this is our story as well as the state’s,” Johnson said. “We are already planning a host of special activities, including a series of guided beachwalks; a conference on the future of the coast; a variety of talks, field trips and parties; and a commemorative publication. More on all this soon.”

CoastWatch organizes seven citizen science projects, Johnson said. While the organization is making great progress in achieving results, it could definitely use more volunteers out on the beaches.

“More volunteers are needed for the teams conducting regular surveys (marine debris, sea stars, beached birds), and we need all CoastWatchers to keep watch for stranded marine mammals, sharks, sea turtles and other creatures; to recognize and report tsunami debris; and to participate in the King Tide project to document the highest tides of the year,” Johnson said.

The group is hoping to get more people involved in CoastWatch as well, where volunteers adopt a mile and periodically make reports on what is found there or what has changed.

These reports are actually quite interesting by themselves, showing how the beaches produce surprises and how often: http://www.oregonshores.org/coastwatch.php5.

In the meantime, you can also donate to the cause, as the stepped-up efforts this next will require more financial assistance. Join and donate here, https://donatenow.networkforgood.org/oregonshores, or by writing to them at P.O. Box 33, Seal Rock, OR 97376. Where to stay in these areas - Where to eat - Maps and Virtual Tours






 

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