A couple of weeks ago, University of Oregon’s student-produced magazine, Flux, asked if I wanted to contribute a letter to Oregon for an upcoming special edition. Here’s what I sent them, even though Sonny the husky passed away last year.
I just returned from walking my dog on one of your publicly-owned ocean beaches, or the “Great Birthright,” as former Governor Oswald West memorably described them.
It was raining. I saw gulls, bald eagles, sanderlings, a decomposing whale, three driftwood forts and the remains of several bonfires. I didn’t see another human being for miles in either direction. Great notions for love and life emerged, as they always seem to do when I walk on the beach.
My experience didn’t cost me a cent. As long as You remain the state I love, it never will. If there ever comes a day when a fee is required to access beaches, You will have certainly died.
Please don’t die. The hot word is out about You again and people just keep coming and coming. Most newcomers have no idea about our unique legacy of publicly-owned beaches and the groundbreaking legislation that codified it into law. My job is to educate them. I will do this until the end of my days. It’s the least I can do. I owe Oregonians from decades and decades ago for saving the beaches from privatization. It has made the crucial difference in my Oregon life. It does every day I visit.