FALL 2005

FALL 2005 FULL ISSUE

IS THIS WHAT TOM McCALL HAD IN MIND?

By PAUL KOBERSTEIN

Tom McCall called it a shameless threat to our environment and to our whole quality of life, an unfettered despoiling of the land, a "coastal condomania."

In his opening address to the 1973 Oregon Legislature, Gov. McCall explained, "We are dismayed that we have not stopped misuse of the land, our most valuable finite natural resource."  McCall's vast environmental legacy included the Beach Bill, a law preserving access to the sandy shoreline for everyone.

But he was not the first governor to champion the Oregon Coast. Gov. Oswald West, who thrust all Oregon beaches into public control by simply declaring them state highways, warned every­ one to be wary of potential threats to the Coast. In 1913 he said, "No selfish local interest should be permitted, by politics or other­ wise, to destroy or even impair this great  .birthright of our people."

With free access to most beaches and the Coast's rich, scenic vistas, countless visitors share Oregonians' passion for this spectacular shoreline. The 362 miles from Astoria to Brookings draw 3.5 million visitors a year to Oregon, from every state and numerous coun­ tries, and the millions of dollars they spend.  

And yet, it's clear from a two-year inquiry by Cascadia Times that Oregon's other natural treasures, like the Columbia Gorge, get more protection than the Coast. Slowly over the years, the Coast has been robbed of pieces of its beauty, its wildness and its solitude - where in many places undeveloped shoreline has become a faint memory.

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Paul Koberstein