Our Vision and Strategy for the Coast

The Oregon Shores Conservation Coalition was founded in 1971 to protect the public interest in Oregon’s beaches established by the Beach Bill. Oregon Shores became a 501 (c) (3) non-profit in 1991.  The organization’s mission has widened over the years to encompass conservation of the environment of the entire coastal region, from the crest of the coastal mountains to the edge of the continental shelf. Our mission statement:

Pigeon Guillemots.  Photo by Heather Roskelley.
Pigeon Guillemots. Photo by Heather Roskelley.

In Oregon, the beaches belong to the people.  As part of Oregon’s tradition of environmental stewardship, the Oregon Shores Conservation Coalition serves as a guardian of the public interest for Oregon’s coastal region.  Oregon Shores is dedicated to preserving the natural communities, ecosystems and landscapes of the Oregon coast while conserving the public’s access.  Oregon Shores pursues these ends through education, advocacy, and engaging citizens to keep watch over and defend the Oregon coast.

Oregon Shores now has about 900 members, and four main programs:  CoastWatch, Land, Ocean and Climate.  During the organization’s earlier years, the emphasis was on advocacy to assure that land use, endangered species and water quality laws were employed to their fullest effect to protect coastal resources.  Many important habitat areas remain undeveloped thanks to our efforts extending over four decades.  That emphasis continues, and has been augmented by a wider array of programs added in recent decades. 

Students conducting marine debris survey.  Photo by Fawn Custer.
Students conducting marine debris survey. Photo by Fawn Custer.

CoastWatch, through which volunteers adopt and monitor one-mile segments of the shoreline, was founded in 1993 and now has nearly 1,675 “mile adopters.” (CoastWatch volunteers are not required to be Oregon Shores members).  The Ocean Program, founded nearly two decades ago, has played a leading role in the campaign to create marine reserves.  Our newest program, Climate, founded in 2009, reflects the realization that climate change is going to affect every aspect of our work.

Until 2005, when the organization’s first executive director was hired, Oregon Shores was an all-volunteer, board-led organization, while paying modest stipends for assistance with CoastWatch and some land use cases.  Oregon Shores now has an executive director, communications coordinator, and CoastWatch volunteer coordinator.

Among our key activities:

  • Oregon Shores has a long history of advocating for protection of beach, headland and tidepool areas (including year-round litter pick-up by CoastWatchers).  We have been involved in literally hundreds of land use issues.  Among many other successes (often in partnership with a local group) are preservation of Coquille Point, Fishing Rock, Crook Point, Yaquina Head, Indian Point in the Coos estuary and the extraordinary 804 Trail near Yachats.  Oregon Shores was a leader in advocating for creation of the South Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve. By employing both land use and clean water regulatory processes, Oregon Shores played a leading role in the long but eventually successful battle to prevent development of an LNG (liquefied natural gas) export facility on Coos Bay's North Spit.
  • Oregon Shores was one of the founding groups of what was then Oregon Ocean, subsequently renamed Our Ocean, the coalition working to create a network of marine reserves off our coast.  The Ocean Program played a leading role in the campaign to create Oregon’s first marine reserves; we continue to make support for these reserves a priority, as a founding member of the Oregon Marine Reserves Partnership.  We are currently deeply engaged in efforts to assure careful environmental assessment of wave energy and floating offshore wind energy impacts as well as benefits, and to better protect our rocky shore areas.
  • Our Climate Action program focuses on adaptive planning, with the goal of building the resiliency of both natural and human communities in the face of sea level rise, increased storm surges, and other likely impacts due to climate change. 
  • CoastWatch engages more than 1,675 volunteers in monitoring the shoreline; it is the only program in the nation through which the citizens of a state (and some citizens of other states who love the Oregon coast) have adopted their state’s entire shoreline. CoastWatch reports assist public resource managers and conservation groups in protecting the shoreline, and CoastWatchers get involved in innumerable ways as individuals, from organizing their own debris pick-ups to participating in surveys to advocating for stronger regulations or opposing unnecessary shoreline armoring projects.

Our vision is of a coastal region protected by a powerful grassroots movement—statewide, but strongly rooted in the communities of the coast—that demands sustainability, conservation of resources, protection of ecosystems and habitats and reconfiguration of human communities so as to work with nature and preserve the coastal environment for all generations.