Oregon’s revolutionary Beach Bill, which celebrates its 50th anniversary this Friday, nearly died a quiet death in a House subcommittee until Oregonians began to realize what was at stake if their beaches fell into hands of private property owners. That realization transformed the Oregon political landscape overnight and came about, in large part, thanks to Matt Kramer’s reporting on the issue
Matt Kramer was a veteran Associated Press reporter covering the Capitol beat in Salem during the battle to pass the Beach Bill. In the space of three months, he wrote approximately 50,000 words of hard news alerting and educating readers about the threat to the state’s beaches if the bill suffered defeat. One article in particular, headlined “Beach Bill Revival Sought,” appeared May 5, 1967 in newspapers across the state, and helped galvanize public support for the bill.
To honor Kramer’s journalism, the state erected a memorial plaque to him in 1972 in Oswald West State Park, overlooking Short Sands Beach.
The plaque reads: “The people of Oregon hereby express their gratitude to Matt Kramer of the Associated Press, whose clear and incisive newspaper articles were instrumental in gaining public support for passing of the 1967 Beach Bill.”
Anyone who loves Oregon’s ocean beaches should make a pilgrimage there and lay hands on the memorial. I visit all the time and always gain incredible inspiration from Kramer’s journalistic accomplishments. I guess you might say I consider him a hero.