State of the Beach/State Reports/OR

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Oregon began to implement a statewide beach water quality monitoring program in 2003. An on-line Coastal Atlas is now available that provides a wealth of information on coastal resources. Beach access information and status is exceptional due to Oregon's longstanding "Beach Bill", with greater than one access site per mile of shoreline.

Oregon Ratings

Indicator Type Information Status
Beach Access108
Water Quality65
Beach Erosion6-
Erosion Response-6
Beach Fill5-
Shoreline Structures6 5
Beach Ecology6-
Surfing Areas48


(+) In January 2013, following years of data collection, stakeholder engagement, and public process, the State of Oregon adopted an amended Territorial Sea Plan, which accommodates for the new use of renewable energy development within Oregon’s nearshore waters. More info.

(+) In June 2011 the Environmental Quality Commission adopted what may be the strictest standards for toxic water pollution in the United States. News release.

(+) Five new, short videos about climate change at the Oregon coast produced by Oregon Sea Grant respond to the concerns of coastal residents. Those concerns, expressed through a 2008 survey of 300 coastal Oregonians, frame the topics of the videos: Introduction to Oregon Coast Climate Change, Predicting the Climate, Shoreline Effects of Climate Change, Broader Coastal and Ocean Effects, and What is Government Doing?. The complete video Preparing for Coastal Climate Change: What Oregonians Are Asking won a Gold Award in the Video/Educational category of the 2011 Hermes Creative Awards.

(+) The Oregon Senate approved a bill in June 2009 that authorizes the state's first two fishing-free marine reserves and requires study of four other areas. The bill implements November 2008 recommendations from Gov. Kulongoski's Ocean Policy Advisory Council. It establishes two fishermen-endorsed pilot reserves -- Otter Rock off Depoe Bay and Redfish Rocks off Port Orford -- that would take up less than 1 percent of Oregon's territorial sea, a 3-mile-wide strip along the 360-mile coast.

(+) A film Politics of Sand documents the incredible history of Oregon’s Beach Bill.

(+) The Oregon Coastal Management Program partnered with Oregon Sea Grant to create Living on the Edge, Building and Buying Property on the Oregon Coast. The 25-minute DVD is intended to influence the behavior of prospective coastal property buyers and builders by giving them a "reality check" on the unique risks that come with developing along the ocean shore, and explaining the steps that should be taken to avoid problems.

(+) The Oregon Parks and Recreation Department is conducting a coast-wide data collection and analysis that focuses on a variety of topical areas, including ecology. This work will be used in their Ocean Shore Management Plan currently being formalized.

(+) 90% of the 362 miles of ocean coastline is open to the public. There is one public beach access site for about every half mile of coastline.

(+) Oregon has created a Coastal Atlas website, which is an interactive, searchable, downloadable archive of geo-spatial data. It includes mapping and decision support tools.

(0) Thanks to Surfrider volunteers, the US Army Corps of Engineers is now required to maintain the beach in front of the new 300-foot rip-rap revetment along the beach at the north Tillamook Jetty. Hopefully, this action will save the wave at Barview.

(0) The Great Oregon Spring Beach Cleanup in March 2006 brought out 5,245 volunteers to take away the debris left by winter storms. Volunteers removed some 46.5 tons of garbage and unwanted objects from the Oregon coast.

(0) Oregon started implementing at statewide water quality monitoring program in spring 2003.

(0) Storms experienced along the Oregon coast during the El Niño winter of 1997-98 and the La Niña winter of 1998-99 were truly exceptional. On five occasions waves reached or exceeded the projected 100-year wave height.

(-) In December 2013 U.S. EPA and NOAA issued a proposed determination that the State of Oregon had failed to submit an approvable Coastal Nonpoint Pollution Control Program as required by Section 6217(a) of the Coastal Zone Act Reauthorization Amendments of 1990 (CZARA), 16U.S.C. 1455b. NOAA and EPA arrived at this proposed decision because the federal agencies found that the State has not fully satisfied all conditions placed on the State’s Coastal Nonpoint Program. Specifically, the federal agencies maintained that Oregon had not fully satisfied several conditions related to new development, onsite sewage disposal systems (OSDS), and additional management measures for forestry.

(-) The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality proposed a revision to the water clarity (turbidity) standard which would eliminate all protections for water clarity within a 300-foot "mixing zone" near an industrial discharge. It has been estimated that the revised rules would let the average Oregon river become more than 30% murkier at times and smaller streams could become more than twice as murky.

(-) In the past 10 years, there have been 74 permanent permits issued for riprap protection of coastal development. The worst year for beach erosion was 1999, when 27 permanent permits were issued. Nearing the end of 2006 there were six emergency permits, three for Neskowin due to storms during the 2005-2006 winter. Three property owners at Gleneden Beach had applied for emergency permits.


  • Oregon Beach Fire Safety Over the course of 2 years of cleaning up hundreds of pounds of rusty nails at Nye and Agate Beach, left behind from beach bonfires where pallets are popularly burned, the Newport Chapter of Surfrider Foundation and their Newport High School club decided to initiate greater effort towards stopping this dangerous beach litter problem at its source. The youth volunteers thought that a great way to raise awareness would be to initiate a De-Nailing Nye Beach Awareness project, through Surfrider’s QUAD program. The idea was simple, if people could see what they were leaving behind, they’d be more conscious of what they were burning on the beaches. The volunteers pulled together several cleanups, targeting nails with construction magnets at beaches where the problems persisted. They then utilized the nails from the cleanup to create a sculpture to help people better visualize what was happening to the pallets they were burning on beaches. Over the course of the year, Surfrider staff became well positioned to work on policy for the issue, securing a seat on the Advisory Committee for upcoming Div. 21 rule changes for ocean shores which included rules in regards to beach fires. The Coos Bay chapter also joined in, inspired by the volunteers in Newport to initiate their own “de-nailing cleanups” at Bastendorff Beach. Between the youth awareness from the cleanups, de-nailing project and the positioning on the advisory committee, rules were revised to eliminate pallets, construction debris and other problem materials and officially approved by the Oregon Parks and Recreation Commission on July 17, 2013. Including the rule changes to Division 21, the volunteers were able to get a joint press release with Surfrider and Oregon Parks and Recreation Department, officially recognizing the efforts of the youth volunteers, raising awareness of the rule changes and explaining the installation of new fire regulation signs at parks. Press image links:
  • Funding for Community Watershed Stewardship Program in Portland The Portland City Council voted 4-1 to fund the Community Watershed Stewardship Program for FY 2013. The program was not included in the Mayor's proposed budget, but the Portland Chapter and other local groups and citizens advocated for the program to be funded. The Chapter submitted formal written comments, attended a budget hearing, and many individual chapter members submitted comments online.
  • Oregon’s Territorial Sea Plan Approved Following years of data collection, stakeholder engagement, and public process, the State of Oregon adopted an amended Territorial Sea Plan in early 2013, which accommodates for the new use of renewable energy development within Oregon’s nearshore waters. Oregon Surfrider members and staff have played a very active role in this effort over the years by participating in the Reedsport Settlement Agreement, developing Surfrider’s Policy on Renewable Ocean Energy, mapping surfing and other recreational activities through the Oregon Non-Consumptive Recreational Ocean Use Study, representing ocean recreational users on the Territorial Sea Plan Advisory Committee (TSPAC), and providing many public comments to the Ocean Policy Advisory Council (OPAC). Department of Land Conservation and Development staff provided recommendations for adoption to the Land Conservation and Development Commission (final decision making body) that were based on input from TSPAC, OPAC, and the public. The Commission then adopted the recommendations by a vote of 5-1 in favor. Read more.
  • Portland Better Bag Ban The Portland Chapter of Surfrider Foundation worked to advocate for an expansion of Portland's Bag Ban ordinance passed in July of 2011 to include all retailers and restaurants, as well as advocating for a fee on paper bags. Focusing in on a one-year analysis of the ordinance from the Bureau of Planning and Sustainability and working with grocers and businesses to demonstrate strong support, the chapter was able to successfully advocate for an expansion of the policy to include all retailers and restaurants, while the fee on paper bags will have to be revisited again upon further analysis of the expanded policy next year. On November 15th, the City Council voted unanimously to move the expanded policy forward, taking the ordinance's impact on plastic bags from 167 retail outlets to some 5,000 retail outlets and restaurants. While the chapter was working on an even more comprehensive policy that included a fee, they see this expansion as a major victory in their effort to eliminate plastic from the environment and wastestream.
  • Eugene Bag Ban On October 22, 2012 the Eugene City Council passed a plastic bag ban ordinance for all local retailers that also includes a five-cent fee for paper bags as an incentive for people to remember their reusable bags. Eugene members worked with Surfrider staff and the Siuslaw Chapter alongside other local organizations OLCV and Environment Oregon to rally grassroots community support for the ordinance. The bag ban will take effect in six months and represents the most comprehensive policy passed to date in Oregon.
  • Agate Beach Access Improvement Appealing a 'road vacation request' from local developers in the Agate Beach area in April 2010, the Newport Chapter was actively seeking to stop future development of the this special place, while improving the access at Agate Beach and Yaquina headland. The chapter was in opposition to further development because of a) the enormous recreational value of the Agate Beach area, b) the trajectory of usage by surfers and others in this area is only increasing, and c) because that right of way belongs to the public and could be improved over time to be an important beach access improvement. After over 2 years of work with stakeholders, considerable support from the City of Newport, Lincoln County Commissioners and finally a $600,000 award from the Oregon Department of Transportation, the road vacation was abandoned for improved recreational facilities. Major kudos for this huge improvement - acquisition of the parking lot, construction of bathrooms and recreational amenities will follow in the fiscal year of 2013! More info.
  • Corvallis Plastic Bag Ban On July 2, 2012 the Corvallis City Council unanimously passed a plastic bag ban ordinance for local retailers that also includes a five-cent fee for paper bags as an incentive for people to remember their reusable bags. Corvallis members worked with Surfrider staff and the Newport Chapter alongside other local organizations Sierra Club and Environment Oregon to rally grassroots community support for the ordinance. Formally working through a local stakeholder advisory group and the city’s administrative services committee for nearly a year, speaking at City Council meetings and working with local retailers, the vote came unanimously 8-0 for the ordinance. The ordinance is scheduled to take effect for large retailers in January 2013 and six months later for small retailers, as defined in the ordinance language. More on bag bans.
  • Redfish Rocks Marine Reserve Surfrider’s goal is to support the successful implementation of the Redfish Rocks Marine Reserve and Marine Protected Area off Port Orford, Oregon. Redfish Rocks was designated as one of the state’s first marine reserves in 2009. Since then, Surfrider members have participated in a community team process to assist the Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife in developing a management plan for the site. Success will be measured by adoption and implementation of a management plan that includes effective strategies for: education & outreach; compliance & enforcement; biological monitoring; socioeconomic monitoring; and economic development.
  • Marine Reserves Designated in Oregon The Oregon State Legislature passed, and Governor Kitzhaber signed Senate Bill 1510 which designates the Cape Perpetua, Cascade Head, and Cape Falcon marine reserve and marine protected area sites as recommended by the respective community teams and the Ocean Policy Advisory Council in 2010. These areas, along with the previously established sites at Redfish Rocks and Otter Rock, provide lasting protection for approximately 9% of Oregon’s Territorial Sea. This achievement has been a major focus for Surfrider Chapters in Oregon over the past 5 years and now sets a process in motion for agency rulemaking, and site-specific management plan development. This decision provides long term protection for several iconic coastal marine habitats within Oregon’s Territorial Sea through no-take marine reserves, as well as adjacent marine protected areas which will continue to allow crabbing and salmon trolling. These sites will protect these sensitive habitats from dredge material disposal, fishing extraction, point source pollution, offshore drilling, and industrial development such as renewable energy from occurring within their boundaries. These sites will also serve as a focal point for advancing nearshore scientific research to help improve future management. Visit the campaign website.
  • Portland, OR Plastic Bag Ban On July 21st, 2011, the Portland City Council voted 5-0 in favor of the ordinance to ban carry out plastic bags at city retailers and allow them to charge for a paper bag starting October 15, 2011. This is a big victory, four years in the making, for the environment, Mayor Sam Adams, the Surfrider Foundation Portland Chapter and many others. After Oregon lawmakers failed to act on SB 536 in 2011, a statewide carryout bag bill, Portland Mayor Sam Adams declared this an emergency ordinance to move it forward quickly since state legislators fumbled the ball. Since it was an emergency ordinance it required a unanimous vote from city council and they all saw the value of this important legislation.
  • Oregon Water, Parks and Wildlife Campaign The passage of ballot measure 76 continues to dedicate 15% of lottery proceeds to Oregon State Parks & Watershed Restoration activities, which were set to expire in 2014. Oregon Chapter members helped in this effort by collecting signatures to get the issue on the ballot, as well as educating the citizenry about the benefits of our state park system, submitting a statement of support for the voters pamphlet, and encouraging people to vote. These funds have been used over the past 12 years to purchase land for new state parks, improve watershed conditions, and educate school children on the importance of stewardship. The measure passed with nearly 70% of the vote. More info.
  • Oregon Oil and Gas Drilling Moratorium Oregon State Legislature passed and Governor Kulongoski signed HB 3613- a bill to restore the moratorium on offshore oil and gas drilling within Oregon’s Territorial waters (0-3nm) through 2020. HB 3613 was championed by Representative Ben Cannon and originally began the legislative session as a permanent ban, but was compromised to sunset in 2020 to broaden support. A diverse coalition of conservationists, fishing groups, businesses, and legislators came together to support this bill and reaffirm Oregon’s commitment to statewide planning goal 19 to protect ocean ecosystems, conserve biodiversity and important habitats, and give preference to renewable uses of our ocean. This bill was actively supported by the Siuslaw, Newport, and Portland Chapters with many letters of support, an op-ed piece in a local coastal newspaper, and assistance in getting businesses and organizations to sign on to the support letter. Although there are scarce known quantities of oil and gas in Oregon’s waters, the passage of this bill makes it crystal clear that offshore drilling off Oregon is not the answer. In a time when many other states are looking at opening up their coastal waters, Oregon is sending a strong message to its Federal delegation that the health of our coastline and environmental legacy is more important than short term economic benefits. More info.
  • Port Orford Stormwater Ordinance Strengthened The City of Port Orford amended its stormwater ordinance to strengthen protections for water quality in both freshwater streams and the nearshore environment. The successful campaign was part of implementation of the Port Orford Community Stewardship Area, a community-based approach to ocean and coastal stewardship. Partners in the effort included the Surfrider Foundation, the Port Orford Ocean Resource Team (POORT), New Wave Planning, the City of Port Orford, and the Oregon Department of Land Conservation and Development. For over two years, project participants collaborated on research, public education, community outreach, and development of draft ordinance language. The shared goal, established through a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the city, was to address the Stewardship Area’s management objective to “protect water quality”.
  • Oregon Marine Reserves The Oregon State Legislature voted to support HB 3013 (unanimously in the House, 3 nays in the Senate), which puts into practice the recommendations of the Ocean Policy Advisory Council (OPAC). These recommendations were to implement two marine reserve projects this year, one at Redfish Rocks in Port Orford and one at Otter Rock near Depoe Bay, as well as the further evaluation and collection of baseline biological, social, and economic information over the next 18 months for sites proposed off Cape Falcon, Cascade Head, Cape Perpetua and to support a proposal from the Coos County area. The bill also directs communities adjacent to the proposal areas to form teams composed of diverse and balanced stakeholders for the on-going collaborative efforts surrounding rule making, research, monitoring, and marine reserve implementation. Funding for this bill over the next two years is provided in part through funds left over from the salvage of the New Carissa, as well as the ability to secure outside funding through either grants or private donations. More info.
  • Oregon Nutrient Reduction Oregon State Legislature passed SB 631, which reduces the amount of phosphorus contained in automatic dish soap to no more than 0.5% by volume. This effort was led by Siuslaw Chapter Blue Water Task Force Coordinator Mark Chandler. Mark worked in his community of Dunes City to pass the first phosphorus reduction ordinance in the State after seeing large algal blooms in Siltcoos and Woahink Lakes that led to impacts on drinking water, recreational use, and aquatic health. This effort was helped by many written letters to Representatives and Senators by the chapter and local citizenry. More info.
  • Save Arcadia Beach State Park Campaign As part of a land acquisition transaction, the eastern property of Arcadia Beach State Park was traded to an individual. The land that was in the park is now zoned for both 'Recreational Management' and 'Agriculture-Forestry' – zoning that would still place limits on the development of a subdivision on this property. The individual that acquired the property petitioned Clatsop County to rezone all of the former Arcadia State Park land to 'Residential Agricultural 2.' This would have allowed a subdivision on the property. The north coast activists are engaged in a campaign to stop this rezoning by submitting letter and testimony to the Clatsop Planning Commission. This former parkland at Arcadia is not accessible by existing water and sewer lines. All water would have to be drawn from small streams or wells above Arcadia Beach. All houses would have to install septic tanks. These developments would have a number of impacts on the use of the beach at Arcadia. The development could also bring additional congestion and aesthetic impacts to this unique place. Oregon’s Department of Land Conservation and Development determined that this petition did not meet numerous statewide planning goals, subsequently facing mounting local opposition and potential legal challenges the applicant withdrew his application.
  • Clean Water at Nye Creek The Newport Chapter has worked since 2004 to clean up Nye Creek through a campaign of water testing, political pressure and media savvy. They first pointed out the fact that the ocean in front of the creek was polluted and making people sick. Through a water quality monitoring program that went up the watershed, the chapter was able to bring to light a number of problems with the city’s stormwater and sewage management systems. Through collaborative work and public pressure the City of Newport has now updated several important regulations and committed to infrastructure improvements, as well as restoration of the creek and educational kiosks. This will all lead to clean and healthy water in Nye Creek and the nearby surf. More info.
  • Prevented Beach Parking Fees in Florence Fisherman and surfers alike have historically used a parking area, known locally as “Chicken Point”, free of charge. In the summer of 2007, Lane County Parks took over the property (renaming it Harbor Vista Park) and put in place a user fee with no general improvement or services for the parking area. Day-use fees set a dangerous precedent for public rights to free and open access to our beaches and coastline scenic views. Area residents and Surfrider activists responded swiftly by gathering over 250 signatures on a petition to eliminate the fee, as well as providing crucial public testimony to the Lane County Board of Commissioners. West Lane Commissioner Bill Fleenor championed the cause and quickly motioned the Commission and instructed park staff to remove the user fee sign from the area.
  • Water Quality Improvements at Big Creek - Newport, OR Over the course of 2 years of water quality testing through the Newport Chapter, the Blue Water Task Force determined that bacteria concentrations at the Agate Beach Wayside were often elevated well above the public health advisory level. The chapter's campaign focus was to source and mitigate the bacterial pollution as well as provide the public with better information about the contamination on the beach and incorporate the site into the state's Beach Monitoring Program. Through persistent work with the state's Beach Monitoring Program, the chapter was able to add this beach site to the state's monitoring program as well as add signage informing the public of the advisories when issued. Inspection of the upper watershed by the chapter led to the discovery of manholes located along Big Creek (which outfalls at Agate wayside) that were occasionally overflowing with raw sewage. In 2006 the chapter began lobbying the city for an investigation to the cause of the overflows and an effort to solve the problem. In the fall of 2007 the city finally was able to hire a contractor for infiltration and visual inspections of the sewage lines along Big Creek. The inspections led to the discovery of two infiltration breaches that were allowing significant amounts of stormwater to enter the sewer line; thus, causing overloading on the Big Creek pump station and spilling sewage out of the manholes and into Big Creek. The breaches were repaired through a "resin-cure" or "pipe patch" method without digging up any of the riparian area around the creek. More info.
  • Reduce Toxic Pollution in Oregon On June 26, 2007, Oregon Governor Ted Kulongoski signed into law Senate Bill 737, which provides Oregon with a roadmap for reducing toxic discharges into rivers, lakes, and the Pacific Ocean. The Act will require the Department of Environmental Quality to prepare a priority list of the most dangerous toxics that are accumulating in sediment, fish and human tissue, and produce a report for the legislature identifying the sources of this pollution, the levels entering the environment, and steps that can be taken to prevent, reduce or eliminate these toxics. Volunteers from Surfrider's Newport and Portland Chapters actively participated in this campaign through the Action Alert, letter writing, and presenting public comments in Salem. Thanks also to our coalition partners Sierra Club and the Riverkeepers. More info.
  • Derelict Crab Pots Cleaned from Southern Oregon Coast Activists on the South Coast of Oregon worked to get 283 derelict commercial crab pots removed from the beach and nearshore in Brookings. The pots, spilled in December 2006, posed threats to surfing access and safety.
  • Shoreline Preservation in Cannon Beach, OR The City of Cannon Beach decided not to waive land use regulations that protect Oregon's ocean beaches from development. On July 31, 2006 a beach front property owner in Cannon Beach filed a Measure 37 claim to construct a motel on top of beach sand dunes long protected by the Oregon Beach Bill of 1967. While parts of the claim were accepted, the city ruled against authorizing development west of the vegetation line. Several Cannon Beach volunteers submitted written comments on this issue and Surfrider also received pro bono research support from two attorneys in the area.
  • Newport, OR water system plan updated The City Council of Newport voted unanimously to update the city's water system master plan.
  • Thanks to Surfrider volunteers, the US Army Corps of Engineers is now required to maintain the beach in front of the new 300-foot rip-rap revetment at the north Tillamook Jetty. Hopefully, this action will save the wave at Barview.
  • Several Surfrider Foundation volunteers served on the DEQ/DHS Beach Monitoring Program Advisory Council. This Council formulated a health advisory sign and public notification procedure to be implemented during high bacteria level events. This procedure was designed to maintain coastal tourism, adequately advise water recreation users, and educate beachgoers about how bacteria enters our oceans. More recently, Surfrider volunteers have worked cooperatively with the city of Newport regarding beach posting and other public notification of water quality conditions.
  • Surfrider Foundation volunteers helped keep the Winchester Bay parking lot free and open to public beach use by assuring it wasn't purchased by the County, and remains in Corps ownership.

For a list of Surfrider Foundation's latest coastal victories, go here.

State of the Beach Report: Oregon
Oregon Home Beach Description Beach Access Water Quality Beach Erosion Erosion Response Beach Fill Shoreline Structures Beach Ecology Surfing Areas Website
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