This Fourth of July holiday weekend is going to be a strange one… Oregon State Parks is facing huge layoffs due to massive revenue loss, most of the fireworks shows along the coast (and inland) have been cancelled, and face masks will be required statewide in public places.

If there was ever a time our State Parks needed us, it is now. The State Parks budget cuts mean less staff keeping an eye on sensitive ecological areas, enforcing rules, and cleaning up after visitors. It is time for Oregonians to live up to our birthright and take responsible ownership of our beaches. That means packing out what you pack in or, ideally, packing out even more than you packed in.

In normal years, droves of volunteers clean the beach on July 5th after an influx of visitors leave fireworks debris and their trash behind. Lucky volunteers might even be rewarded with perfectly good beach chairs or coolers that were abandoned after one use. This year is different. Due to concerns about COVID-19, there are no organized cleanups following the holiday weekend. We all need to be responsible for our actions and encourage fellow beach goers to be responsible as well.

State Parks Beach Rangers have long been the uniformed stewards of the beach, supporting our cleanup efforts and alerting us to beach cleanup needs. The Beach Rangers have been reassigned to fill in priority needs after staff layoffs so we can no longer rely on them.

It’s time to step up our game and be better stewards for the beach.