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Byline: The Register-Guard

1899: The Legislature declares 30 miles of beach a highway "forever open as such to the public" between high tide line and low tide line from Columbia River to Clatsop County south boundary.

1913: Gov. Oswald West persuades the Legislature to amend 1899 law to extend wet-sand beach highway to include all tidelands along Oregon Coast.

1947: The Legislature changes designation of beach "highway" to "recreation area."

1966: William Hay, owner of Surfsand Motel in Cannon Beach, fences off section of dry sand adjacent to motel and posts it for "Surfsand Guests Only." Although most Oregonians believed all Oregon beaches were public, 112 miles of dry-sand beaches above high tide line were deeded to private individuals such as Hay, who sought to exercise his right of ownership.

1967: State Parks and Recreation Advisory Committee, headed by Loren L. "Stub" Stewart of Eugene, orders preparation of Beach Bill to ensure public's access to dry-sand beach area. Idea gains backing of Gov. Tom McCall and slightly amended bill eventually passes in the Legislature. Bill provides for public recreational easement between high tide line and line 16 feet landward, approximating beginning of vegetation.

1969: State Supreme Court upholds beach law in landmark Thornton vs. Hay case in which Attorney General Robert Thornton sues Surfsand Motel owner Hay for refusing to remove fence outside his motel.

1994: The U.S. Supreme Court upholds the state's beach law by declining to review a state Supreme Court decision against Irving and Jeanette Stevens, owners of Ecola Inn in Cannon Beach. The couple wanted to build a seawall on dry sand adjacent to the motel so they could expand their building.

The Register-Guard


The Oregon Beach Bill is a part of the enduring legacy of Gov. Tom McCall.
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Title Annotation:Environment
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Date:Nov 17, 2002
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