Beach party on a misty day.

Oregon Shores has advocated for preserving public access to Oregon’s public shoreline for more than half a century.  The issue is always lurking in the background when development is proposed, but now it is moving to the foreground for active consideration.

The Oregon Coastal Management Program (a part of the Department of Land Conservation and Development–DLCD) is in the midst of a study of public access to Oregon’s public shore.  Our Beach Bill guarantees access along the shore, but does not guarantee access to the shore.  With more and more people visiting the coast, and many private owners seeking ways to exclude the public, this is an increasingly important issue if we are to maintain our tradition of a shoreline that belongs to the people.

Oregon Shores Conservation Director Phillip Johnson serves on an informal advisory group, the Coastal Access Advisory Team (CAAT), which is exploring the issue and generating ideas for possible regulations that would better protect public access.  The CAAT is at work on crafting a new section on public access for the coastal planner’s handbook provided by DLCD, and is now considering proposals for new regulations or legislation that may be needed to assure public access. Oregon Shores is advocating strongly for a good balance between making some sites more accessible, especially to those with physical challenges, while keeping others minimally developed to limit the impact of visitors. We are also advocating for careful sensitivity to possible impacts to areas of cultural significance to Oregon’s tribes. A chance for public comment will come later in the process.

Update: the CAAT’s recommendations have been completed, and are now being studied by DLCD. Watch this space for more information when the agency’s response and proposed plan is revealed.

Oregon Shores has a long history of opposing attempts to cut off public rights-of-way to the shore. We are engaging actively in this process and pushing for stronger regulations—and possible legislation—to preserve access. Watch this space for more details as the process unfolds.