Sometimes we Oregonians take for granted the access we have to the beaches — all of them along the 363-mile stretch of the Oregon Coast.
In other coastal states, many beaches are privately owned and inaccessible.
Here, the Oregon Beach Bill keeps the shore open to all of us. And this year marks the 50th anniversary of the bill’s approval.
In 1913, Oregon Gov. Oswald West signed into law a bill that made the state’s tidelands public highways, thereby guaranteeing unencumbered public access to the coastline.
A 1966 challenge to this law exposed a flaw in the bill which protected only the wet sands as being publicly owned. The flaw was corrected during the 1967 legislative session by House Bill 1601, widely known as the Oregon Beach Bill. This law finally established public ownership of the land along the Oregon coast by declaring “free and uninterrupted use of the beaches” between the low-water mark and the vegetation line.
This action resulted in many of the most beautiful sea landscapes in America being protected from development. That’s good for residents — and it’s good for tourism, a major economic driver for many of our communities.
Residents and visitors do not have to confront “No Trespassing” signs, fenced resort areas, private docks, or traverse a labyrinth of lounge chairs. There are simply vast beautiful beaches, sea treasures and ocean waters to enjoy.
Our unspoiled beaches are open to all and we are grateful to those who had the foresight to establish the Oregon Beach Bill 50 years ago.