100 years of enjoying bonfires, sunsets and long walks

<p>Elaine Murdy</p>

How many warm summer nights have you spent circled around a bonfire or digging through the sand with your children? For some, it just isn’t summer unless you’ve roasted s’mores or built the perfect sandcastle. These are things that can easily be taken for granted, like the simple act of trudging down to the shore to walk your dog unheeded by fences or by private property signs. It is easy to forget that there are places in the world where these things cannot be enjoyed.

This year, Oregon celebrated the 100th anniversary of the passing of Senate Bill 22. Senate Bill 22 was instrumental in protecting Oregon’s beaches, “between ordinary high tide and extreme low tide,” from privatization by declaring this area “public highway.”

Gov. Oswald West was Oregon’s 14th governor who, in this author’s opinion, had a high standard for doing what was right. One of these things was protecting Oregon’s land from corruption and theft, first as an Oregon land agent and later as governor.

West was a forward thinker and because of his experiences as a land agent was acutely aware how such beautiful beaches could be taken advantage of. Thanks to him and the convening of Oregon’s 27th session of the Oregon State Legislative Assembly, the path to protected beaches was paved.

Senate Bill 22 stated, “The shore of the Pacific Ocean, between ordinary high tide and extreme low tide, and from the Columbia River on the north to the Oregon and California State line on the south, expecting such portion or portions of such shore as may have heretofore been disposed of by the State, is hereby declared a public highway and shall forever remain open as such to the public.”

So what happened in 1967 with Oregon’s Beach Bill, if the beaches were already protected? The answer to that is rather long, but suffice to say Gov. Tom McCall made a trip to Cannon Beach. This trip started a campaign to further protect the beaches from any form of privatization. Check our Anchor Productions documentary, “Politics of Sand.”

After a great deal of campaigning, McCall signed the 1967 Beach Bill. This bill protected the beaches once again, but not just the areas between high tide and low tide, it protected the sand above the high tide line.

This year, we raise our glasses to Gov. Oswald West and his desire to protect Oregon’s beauty for all to enjoy – and to Gov. Tom McCall for carrying the torch.

“No selfish interest should be permitted, through politics or otherwise, to destroy or even impair this great birthright of our people.” — Gov. Oswald West

So, get out there and enjoy the beauty of our beaches!


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