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Public Opinion Sought on Driving Ban on Two N. Oregon Coast Beaches

Published 12/13/20 at 4:55 AM PDT
By Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

Public Opinion Sought on Driving Ban on Two N. Oregon Coast Beaches

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(Pacific City, Oregon) – For decades some have enjoyed the rambling of vehicles along three pockets of beaches around Pacific City, while other regulars on the Oregon coast have cursed the sand-staining activity and its dangers. A new proposal by Oregon State Parks and Recreation Department (OPRD) would end the driving of motor vehicles on two sections of beach: the area within the limits of Tierra Del Mar and the section immediately next to Cape Kiwanda at the main access.

Driving of vehicles would remain in that section of sand at McPhillips Beach – from Tierra Del Mar’s southern border to the north face of Kiwanda – and at the southern beaches of town from Pacific City Avenue down to Porter Point.

OPRD is asking the public for comment on the proposed administrative rule amendment. The deadline for comments is 5 p.m., February 12, 2021.

The first change would ban driving year-round from the mouth of Sand Lake south to the northern border of the Cape Kiwanda State Natural area, roughly in line with the southern edge of the unincorporated community of Tierra del Mar. Driving is currently prohibited on this beach at different times: it’s not allowed May 1 through September 30, and from sunrise to sunset on legal holidays, and on Saturdays and Sundays between October 1 and April 30. Limits could start in March if beach driving is closed to protect the season of shorebirds nesting – a type of bird that is considered threatened.

The second change closes the beach to driving from a Tillamook County boat ramp in Pacific City, south about a quarter of a mile. Boaters will be able to park on the beach north of the boat ramp to the foot of Cape Kiwanda, and sometimes launch or land south of the boat ramp when the beach north of the ramp is unsafe.

This section of beach is currently open year-round, but was temporarily closed in 2020 to vehicles, except boaters, amid state park staffing shortages and safety concerns related to mixing beach visitors and vehicles.

“We’re proposing these changes in cooperation with the county as we both try to improve the quality of the beach experience and keep people and vehicles from mixing on a busy beach,” said OPRD spokesperson Chris Havel. “The tricky part is striking a balance between those concerns and easy, fair access to the tremendous gift that is the Oregon ocean shore.”

Comments may be made online at https://bit.ly/tillamookbeachdriving, at a virtual public hearing on January 28, 2021 (details to follow), by email to oprd.publiccomment@oregon.gov, and in writing to:

Oregon Parks and Recreation Department
Attn.: Katie Gauthier
725 Summer St NE, Suite C
Salem OR 97301

Maps and the exact rule language are also online at https://bit.ly/tillamookbeachdriving

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