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Beyond the Beach Bill: Statewide Debates over Public Beaches

Oregon Historical Society, 1200 SW Park
1200 SW Park Avenue
Portland, OR 97205, US (map)



The history of Oregon's public beaches is far more complex than the passage of a single law championed by environmental leaders Bob Straub and Tom McCall, with early successes followed by several years of conflict and threats. Two political insiders walk us through the dramatic debates that swept from the coast into Salem and across Oregon, as the state's leaders and citizens argued over roads, taxes, and property rights. Their presentations make clear that the free access to beaches that helps define Oregon today was anything but assured!

Floyd McKay was a political reporter for The Oregon Statesman and news analyst for KGW-TV during the years when Straub, McCall, and citizens across the state wrote what came to be known as the Oregon Story, a history McKay recounts in his book, Reporting the Oregon Story: How Activists and Visionaries Transformed a State. Janet McLennan’s multi-decade career in public service included advocating for open beaches in the 1960s. After serving as Executive Director of Beaches Forever, she finished law school and worked on natural resource law, management and policy in the state and Federal governments, including as Natural Resource Advisor to Governor Bob Straub.