The Surfrider Foundation’s 6th annual State of the Beach Report was released today coinciding with the 50th anniversary of the Coastal Zone Management Act (CZMA). Congress passed the law in 1972, and for decades, this bedrock law has helped Great Lake, Gulf and coastal states to manage shorelines around the country. The goal of the law is to “preserve, protect, develop, and where possible, to restore or enhance the resources of the nation’s coastal zone.” Surfrider’s State of the Beach Report is a comprehensive review and scorecard of each state’s implementation of this critical law, foundational to Surfrider’ mission to protect and enjoy our oceans, waves and beaches. More on the national report here or read on to see how Oregon landed a B- on the report.

While Oregon continues to be a leader with sea level rise planning, some key beach preservation policies in Oregon are limited in addressing restoration and mitigation from development and associated impacts to beaches. Much of this has to do with the extremely dynamic nature of Oregon’s ocean shore, which makes defining and developing restoration and mitigation efforts challenging. However, with Oregon’s Beach Bill establishing the public right of way along, and the important recreational value of Oregon’s beaches, it’s critical that future planning addresses this shortcoming – for surely the seas are rising and our beaches are shrinking.

This key planning and programmatic ocean shore issue is further exacerbated in our state as the state’s most important beach preservation policy, statewide land use planning Goal 18, has been challenged more and more by private individuals seeking to protect and develop ocean front homes over that of public beaches. Surfrider is challenging one such issue through our current rip rap campaign in Tillamook County. Moreover, in an effort to plan for sea level rise the state recently made some changes to Goal 18 that allows for more shoreline armoring that threatens public beaches, underscoring the need for improved restoration policies and mitigation programs – more on that here. With climate change and sea level rise, Oregon will need to address these issues more and more to protect public beaches and elevate our beaches report card to an A!