Celebrate the Beach Bill’s golden anniversary at the Capitol
This July Oregon celebrates an important birthday, and you’re invited to the party.
Fifty years ago the Beach Bill became law, and Oregonians secured their access to all 362 miles of coastline. This was huge – Oregon became one of the first and few states to protect public beach access along the entire coastline.
In honor of this milestone, Oregon State Parks is bringing the beach to the Capitol, where the legacy of Oregon’s open beaches was secured with the signing of the bill in July of 1967. On Saturday, July 8, we’re throwing a Beach Bill Birthday Bash from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m., in partnership with Oregon State Parks Foundation, the Oregon State Capitol Foundation’s Capitol History Gateway and more than 16 partnering organizations and coastal businesses.
It just one of several ways you can celebrate this landmark year. Cannon Beach, Gold Beach, Coos Bay and other coast-based organizations are also planning events to celebrate the Beach Bill. Oregonbeachparty.org has all the details.
Salem’s bash features all the coastal favorites: kites, a giant inflatable Dungeness crab, Mo’s chowder, free scoops of really creamy Tillamook ice cream, and even a giant sandbox with sand toys and hidden treasures.
Bring your beach blanket for a concert on the lawn at 11:30 a.m. featuring the debut coast-inspired album by Portland artist Slater Smith. We partnered with the indie artist in 2013 for the music video to the song “Back O’er Oregon,” which he filmed in 185 state parks. That’s 185 parks featured in just over five minutes. We were impressed. So we can’t wait to hear what he’s developed this time.
Activities for kids include kite making, beach-themed crafts, face painting and meeting JR Beaver, the Oregon State Parks’ mascot. Washed Ashore is bringing its famous 7-foot salmon Nora, sculpted from beach trash. You never knew garbage could be so elegant.
You know those pretty handmade glass floats Lincoln City hides on the beach every year? We have some of those too — 50 to be exact. Instead of hiding them, attendees can enter a raffle at the Oregon State Parks booth to win one, each engraved with a commemorative 50th anniversary stamp.
We also want you to walk away feeling a little bit smarter. Boost your beach smarts at the many booths and exhibits. Inside the Capitol, a 30-minute Oregon Public Broadcasting Beach Bill documentary will air for the duration of the event, and a special Beach Bill exhibit will be on display in the Galleria.
Visitors can take a special Beach Bill-themed Capitol tour with Beach Ranger Brian at 11:30 a.m., 12:30 p.m., and 1:30 p.m. Weather permitting, the public can also take a tower tour to the Oregon Pioneer at 11 a.m., noon and 1 p.m.
RSVP and help us spread the word on Facebook. Questions? Call the Capitol’s Visitor Services at 503-986-1388 or visit the Capitol’s events page. Parking is free under the Capitol Mall, accessible from Chemeketa Street NE. Meters surrounding the Capitol are not enforced on weekends.
The people’s coast
Generations of Oregonians have enjoyed visiting the coast, but that tradition was first officially protected in 1913, when Governor Oswald West and the Oregon legislature established the state’s 362 miles of shoreline as a public highway.
Then, in the summer of 1966, the owner of a Cannon Beach hotel found a loophole in the legislation: dry sand didn’t apply. He placed large driftwood logs to block off a section of the beach to all but his guests. In response, the State Highway Commission, with Gov. Tom McCall’s support, introduced two bills in the legislature to protect all sand, wet and dry. The bills mimicked a Texas law that recognized the public’s continued use of private beach land as a permanent right.
At first, the bills had little public support and seemed destined to fail. But news stories and a well-publicized visit to Cannon Beach by Gov. McCall spread the word that Oregon’s open beaches were at risk.
“Most people had assumed the beaches were already public and weren’t aware of the efforts at the capital until it was almost too late,” said Laurel Hillmann, Ocean Shores Specialist for Oregon State Parks. “In the end, Oregonians’ persistence saved the beach.”
The legislature passed the Beach Bill on June 7, 1967, and the governor signed it into law on July 6. The bill would “forever preserve and maintain the sovereignty of the state heretofore existing over the seashore and ocean beaches of the state…so that the public may have the free and uninterrupted use thereof.”
Though the process didn’t end there — the legislation would face many legal challenges in the years that followed — the legacy had just begun.
So take a stroll, explore your tidepools, hunt for agates, dip your toes in the sand — and know this beach is yours and mine and everyone’s, thanks to Oregonians like you.
For information on the history of the Beach Bill and other ways to celebrate this anniversary year, go to oregonbeachparty.org.