Oregon Coast Vandalism Caught on Video Did Break Laws, May Be Prosecuted
Published 09/05/2016 at 6:11 PM PDT
By Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff
(Pacific City, Oregon) – Oregon coast authorities say the group of eight who are seen on video vandalizing a structure on top of Cape Kiwanda have broken Oregon State Parks and Recreation Department (OPRD) rules and thus could be prosecuted. (Photo: a still from the video by David Kalas).
Earlier this week, OPRD discovered a much-loved landmark called “the pedestal” on top of Cape Kiwanda had crumbled. It was initially thought this was because of the natural erosional process, but in recent days video taken by a Hillsboro man surfaced, showing a small group of people tugging and pushing on the landmark and causing it to topple.
OPRD spokesman Chris Havel said the agency and Oregon State Police (OSP) will be reviewing the video and the situation, discussing whether or not to pursue charges.
“We'll know more tomorrow,” Havel said. “It could be that state police will put something else on the table to pursue them with.”
The alleged vandals have not been identified.
The rock structure in 2000.
Havel said this and most any other kind of vandalism on Oregon coast beaches falls under the OPRD rules of “damaging resources.” It is a class A misdemeanor and fines begin at $435, but Havel said the fines could be up to thousands of dollars.
“It violates state parks rules and we take those violations very seriously,” Havel said. “We have cited for these things in the past.”
The area where the rock formation is located is accessed only via an extremely dangerous, narrow slip of sandstone where many have died over the decades. To get there, you have to also go beyond a fence that very distinctly says “stay out.”
The aftermath this week (photo OPRD)
However, if the group of vandals are caught they cannot be prosecuted for that.
““They can't be cited for crossing over the fence,” Havel said. “The area is not closed. That fence is up there for safety.”
Most all of Oregon's 362 miles of beaches fall under OPRD jurisdiction, and thus are subject to its rules – even if it isn't technically known as a state park (although Cape Kiwanda is). Havel said the basic rule of “damaging resources” is enforceable here, one that is very broad and leaves everything up to park ranger discretion. (Also see: Just What is Cape Kiwanda on Oregon's Coast? And Why It's Falling Apart)
This incident definitely breaks Oregon laws as dictated by OPRD rules, Havel said, but OSP will be the agency pursing it.
Any kind of vandalism breaks this law as well, such as tagging of signs on Oregon coast beaches, breaking signs, digging in cliffs, to even scratching your name in a rock or cliff face.
Digging for fossils carries special fines.
Havel said digging in cliffs goes way beyond mere vandalism, however. It can create instabilities in the upper areas of a cliff and create dangerous situations above.
Other questionable activities on the coast that could get you in trouble include (according to OPRD):
Collecting animals or plants. Do not take creatures from tide pools.
Smoking marijuana on beaches. Oregon laws regarding recreational pot specifically prohibit smoking it in public.
Drinking alcohol on public beaches is legal, unless otherwise specified by local town laws. You must, of course, be over 21 years of age. More on Cape Kiwanda below and at the Three Capes Virtual Tour, Map.
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