Several years ago I started promoting the idea of a grand celebration of the 50th anniversary of Oregon’s landmark Beach Bill, which protected the dry sand areas of our public beaches from private encroachment and exploitation. In fact, I published dozens of columns and a book, The Great Birthright, connecting to that idea. I also delivered 30 public presentations around the state urging citizens to mark the date and get ready to party. I started a promotional campaign via my web site and my print designer produced a hot logo and buttons and posters that I gave away everywhere I went. This was all done on my own because I wanted to honor Oregon’s legacy of publicly-owned beaches and educate people, particularly newcomers, how special we have it here. I consider free public beaches and guaranteed access to them as cornerstones of this state’s unique greatness.
Fifty years ago, politicians from both parties and an army of Oregonians saved the beaches for me to come along later and enjoy as a kid and adult. I’ve probably written a half million words on this subject and will probably write another half million before I die.
The exact date of Governor Tom McCall signing the Beach Bill into law was July 7, 1967 and thus the anniversary is coming up soon. As many of you know, I was going to take a prominent leadership role in this celebration, but of course, that’s over now and all I can do is keep sharing my thoughts about our beaches on this blog. I hope readers will share my forthcoming posts about the impending celebration on social media and get the word moving. I am also happy to donate copies of The Great Birthright to any book club or conservation group. Just contact me through my web site. I want this book out there!
A year or so ago, a coastal State Representative asked me to draft a resolution commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Beach Bill. I was honored to do so and wrote one up right away. I sent it the State Rep and never heard from this official again. I have no idea where the draft went or if such resolution has been proposed or adopted.
Below is that draft. Perhaps it helped out.
Whereas the Beach Bill statute read, in part: “to forever preserve and maintain the sovereignty over the seashore and ocean beaches…so that the public may have the free and uninterrupted use thereof.”
Whereas the Beach Bill was passed by a Republican House and Democratic Senate and approved by a Republican Governor.
Whereas there was a great public outcry when it learned in 1967 that the sacrosanct great notion of recreating in the dry sands areas of the ocean beaches was imperiled, and that this outcry helped the Beach Bill become law.
Whereas the Beach Bill strengthened the state’s unique legacy of publicly-owned beaches first established in 1913 by Governor Oswald West’s law that declared the wet sand areas of the ocean beaches a public highway.
Whereas Governor West declared Oregon’s ocean beaches the state’s “great birthright.”
Whereas Oregonians and visitors have enjoyed the free and uninterrupted use of the state’s ocean beaches for generations to build driftwood forts, sandcastles, bonfires, fly kites, run, walk, swim, fish and surf, among other activities.
Whereas Oregonians celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Beach Bill’s passage on July 7, 2017 and remember to always protect the “great birthright” for now and future generations.