Big Picture: A Treasure & A Legacy
Published: 04/25/2017 Updated: 04/26/2017
Haystack Rock in Cannon Beach
Photo by Gary Hayes
With its incredible beauty and diversity the Oregon Coast touches people deeply and this year we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Oregon Beach Bill.
There are many things that make the Oregon Coast a remarkable experience. Epic waves crash onto beaches, explode against cliff sides or spin a fine mist that catches the warm light of a sunset. Millions of years of waves and weather have carved a shoreline of endless variety; sheer cliffs, sculpted sandstone headlands and lava formations from the flows of ancient volcanoes rise monumentally from the beaches and surf. Trees tower hundreds of feet above your head in lush rainforest that reaches right to the edge of the surf. Beaches of fine, golden sand, or black sand, or polished pebbles or rounded cobbles offer an endless variety of environments that are ever-changing. Dozens of varieties of seabirds might be seen as you walk these beaches. Fascinating creatures can be observed in tidepools. Don't be surprised if you see seals, sea lions or spend your time watching spouting whales. Elk graze casually in coastal meadows. The Oregon Coast is a place that touches people deeply with its incredible beauty and diversity. To some it's relaxing, soothing, healing or awe inspiring. Still, what may be the most remarkable thing about this coastline is that it belongs to the public. There are no privately owned beaches on the Oregon Coast. Instead, there is unprecedented access from one end of the state to the other with dozens of State Parks, State Recreation Sites and State Scenic Viewpoints. This year, we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Oregon Beach Bill that assured that the public was entitled to "free and uninterrupted use of the beaches." It was the culmination of decades of debate about the privatization of these public lands, an effort halted by Oregon governor Oswald West who in 1913 succeeded in passing legislation that made beaches public based on the need for transportation, declaring the beaches a state highway. Although Oregonians may now take this access for granted, it is truly exceptional and is a treasure and a legacy unique to the State of Oregon. In today's society of profits above all else, this is what is truly remarkable about the Oregon Coast