From an aerial view, the Oregon Coast is a series of long stretches of sandy beaches interspersed by rugged headlands. These beaches were first protected for public use by Governor Oswald West (in office 1911-15).
In 1967 Governor Tom McCall (in office 1967-75) assisted in the passage of the Oregon Beach Bill to maintain West’s vision in keeping Oregon’s beaches open to the public. The Oregon Beach Bill decreed that all land within sixteen vertical feet of the average low tide mark belongs to the people of Oregon and guarantees that the public has free and uninterrupted use of the beaches along Oregon’s 363 miles of coastline. A state easement exists up to the line of vegetation. Only one other state, Hawaii, guarantees public access from the surf line to the vegetation line. The Beach Bill also directed that the ocean shore be administered as a state recreation area.
The Oregon Parks and Recreation Department is charged with the protection and preservation of the recreation, scenic, and natural resource values found on Oregon’s ocean shore.