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05.16.24

Volunteers Take Flight for Oregon Beaches

Last week Surfrider Foundation and Oregon Shores volunteers teamed up and took flight along the Oregon coast to document climate impacts to Oregon’s beaches. After a gloomy couple of weeks of rain and wind on the coast, the skies opened up on Wednesday May 8 for a beautiful coastal flight with the team at LightHawk. LightHawk is a nonprofit that accelerates conservation success through the powerful perspective of flight. The group is helping our local volunteers get a handle on what the climate impacts to our public beaches are looking like, documenting key areas of shrinking beaches and coastal development from the air. The documentation will aid in a new public beaches campaign Surfrider and Oregon Shores are launching this year.

Shoreline_development_Chanel Hason

While this newly sand-covered rip rap or rock armor may help protect these condos and their pool the structure will advance erosion of the public beach, which will eventually be lost.  Photographed by Chanel Hason for the Surfrider Foundation with the aerial support from Lighthawk pilot Lane Gromley

It was a sunny beautiful clear day last week at Newport’s small municipal airport where LightHawk volunteer pilot Lane Gormley, Portland Chapter volunteer Chanel Hason and Oregon Shores volunteer Rena Olson met for their flight mission. Lane, based out of Stanwood, WA, volunteers with his Cessna 182S and has been working with LightHawk for about 10 years. The goal of the flight was to acquire some nice photographs of large swaths of public beaches to document areas currently compromised by climate and development as well as areas of opportunity where beaches are still relatively natural and uninterrupted. The volunteers were excited by their birds-eye view opportunity, both for supporting the broader campaign effort but also for simply the thrill of flying above the beautiful Oregon Coast.

Lighthawk_volunteers

Volunteer pilot Lane Gormley (left), Rena Olson and Chanel Hason (right) pose for a shot after the flight! Photographed by Chanel Hason for the Surfrider Foundation.

I was thrilled to have the chance to see the coast from a completely new perspective while advocating for Oregon's beaches. The beauty we witnessed from the air for several hours was indescribable. The pristine deep teal hues of the ocean waves crashing against the rugged cliffs resembled a scene from a movie. In stark contrast, it was jarring to photograph the numerous instances of coastal erosion threatening local communities, where homes are precariously perched on unstable cliffs.

-Chanel Hason, Surfrider Foundation Portland Chapter volunteer.

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Photographed by Chanel Hason for the Surfrider Foundation with the aerial support from Lighthawk pilot Lane Gromley

Surfrider Foundation and Oregon Shores are in the early stages of launching “Oregon Beaches Forever”, a new campaign that aims to safeguard Oregon's public beaches for future generations and ensure the preservation of our coastlines and communities as we adapt to climate change. Rising seas, climate events, increased development and challenges with shoreline management are all contributing to shrinking beaches - a major threat to the public’s recreation opportunities and coastal economies. This flight was a key opportunity to garner a greater perspective for the geography of the campaign.

aerial view of Oregon coast

Photographed by Chanel Hason for the Surfrider Foundation with the aerial support from Lighthawk pilot Lane Gromley

Leaving Newport the flight took a path north all the way to Astoria and back again. Documenting key areas where sand and public beaches are being lost and how those areas are being managed can give us better insight on how to protect and preserve Oregon’s beaches. With shrinking beaches and rising seas, it’s critical we begin to take action to better manage our special coastline. From nature based-solutions that nourish our beaches to planned retreat, Surfrider feels now is the time to develop climate adaptation pathways if we are to maintain these public resources. 

aerial view of oregon coast

The flight was a massive success, garnering hundreds of key photos that will help us in considering and communicating future policy and climate adaptation actions. Both Surfrider Foundation and Oregon Shores have been working on conservation efforts with LightHawk for nearly a decade now. We can’t thank LightHawk enough for this outstanding opportunity both for our volunteers but also in supporting key documentation to support our coastal conservation efforts - thank you!

Check out some other photos from previous King Tide flights we have conducted with LighHawk here!