Celebrating a legacy

Cannon Beach celebrates the 50th anniversary of the state's beach bill.

CANNON BEACH — Cannon Beach will celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Oregon Beach Bill yet again with another day of festivities planned for July 6.

On May 13, the Chamber of Commerce held an event celebrating the anniversary of when former Gov. Tom McCall flew his helicopter to Cannon Beach as a statement of his commitment to the bill that would keep all 363 miles of Oregon shoreline public.

The Oregon Shores Conservation Coalition and Haystack Rock Awareness Program, however, decided to celebrate the anniversary of the day the bill was actually with a special beachwalk, speeches from local environmental activists and a dinner party.

Oregon Shores Executive Director Phillip Johnson said the goal of the event is to not only celebrate the past 50 years of conservation and preservation efforts, but to inspire action to sustain these actions for the next 50 years.

“We don’t always think the beach as an ecosystem — and it’s a fascinating one,” Johnson said. “We hope to educate people about the natural history of this area as well as the history of the bill.”

Johnson said Oregon Shores Conservation Coalition’s inspiration to hold this event comes out of the fact the group formed in part because of the passage of the Oregon Beach Bill.

The group evolved from the ad hoc group, Citizens to Save Oregon Beaches, which campaigned for the passage of Oregon’s famed Beach Bill. The coalition works to protect coastal ecosystems from development and to deliver those lands back into public hands if possible, Johnson said.

“We are now in our 46th year of existence,” Johnson said. “Now that this public legacy has been established, now you a need watchdog group to watch over those beaches.”

The nature walk will show exactly the type of land the coalition fights to protect, starting south of Ecola Creek, south to Haystack Rock and back to the community center, Johnson said. It will be lead by coastal ecologist Stewart Schultz, who will discuss shoreline natural history, Bonnie Henderson from the North Coast Land Conservancy and local geologist Tom Horning.

The route intentionally passes the Surfsand Resort, where the campaign for the Beach Bill in 1967 began when the former owner staked out part of the beach for the exclusive use of his guests.

“[The Haystack Rock Awareness Program] wanted to get involved with this event because Cannon Beach was and is the center of the action,” Executive Director of HRAP Melissa Keyser said. “There are still so many community activists who still have a voice here.”

The celebration will begin at 1:30 p.m. in the Cannon Beach Community Hall with refreshments and a remarks from Johnson, Cannon Beach resident and conservationist Ed Johnson, environmental activist, author and filmmaker Stephen Grace, and others, before starting the beach walk at 2:15 p.m.

The dinner will start at 4 p.m. back in the Cannon Beach Community Hall. All events are free.

“We hope the result will be a renewed enthusiasm for the kind of citizen engagement we’ll need to protect our shoreline resources for the next 50 years,” Johnson said.

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