Vehicles and dory boats on the beach at Cape Kiwanda.Photo by Sonja Peterson.

Pandemic restrictions led to closed beach access points and prohibitions of driving on Oregon’s beaches.  A lot of coastal residents and visiting beach-lovers appreciated the quiet beaches and want to keep them that way.

The Oregon Parks and Recreation Department (OPRD), aka State Parks, is responding to public safety concerns and the preference of most beach-goers for vehicle-free beaches with a proposal to restrict motor vehicles on two sections of beach in southern Tillamook County.  Public comment was sought, although the deadline has now passed.  However, the Parks and Recreation Commission will now consider the issue at its Feb. 25 online meeting, and it is possible to comment directly to them at  Deadline for comments to the commission is Feb. 23 at 5 p.m.

Oregon Shores strongly supports the proposed closures, and in general supports closure of beaches to all vehicles safe those needed for emergencies, scientific research, and, with careful limitations, to provide for disabled access.  (The dory boats that launch directly into the surf at this location are a unique use on the coast.)

One change would ban driving year-round from the mouth of Sand Lake south to the northern border of the Cape Kiwanda State Natural area, roughly in line with the southern edge of the unincorporated community of Tierra del Mar. Driving is currently prohibited on this beach at different times: it’s not allowed May 1 through September 30 (but limits can start in March if beach driving is closed to protect snowy plovers during nesting season); from sunrise to sunset on legal holidays; and on Saturdays and Sundays between October 1 and April 3.

The second change closes the beach to driving from the Hungry Harbor Rd. boat ramp in Pacific City (just south of Cape Kiwanda, by the Pelican Pub), south about a quarter of a mile. Boaters will be able to park on the beach north of the boat ramp to the foot of Cape Kiwanda, and sometimes launch or land south of the boat ramp when the beach north of the ramp is unsafe. This section of beach is normally open year-round, but was temporarily closed last year to vehicles, except boaters, amid state park staffing shortages and safety concerns related to mixing beach visitors and vehicles. 

For more information, a link to the public hearing that was held on this issue, and background documents, go here.