Surfrider Foundation’s North Coast Chapter and partners are working collaboratively to improve shoreline management and protect public beaches in Cannon Beach. The small beach community is an icon on the Oregon coast, steeped in historic policy events for the state’s public beaches. Cannon Beach’s bustling tourism economy and the town's identity itself depend on a broad, publicly accessible beach but the rising tide of climate change and traditional approaches to protecting coastal development is threatening Oregon beaches.
Each year mother nature continues to take bites out of our public beaches. A host of climate change events from more severe storms and erosion events to sea level rise are shrinking one of our most valuable coastal recreational assets and requiring us to rethink how we manage the static shoreline development, with an ever-changing public beach. In a review and report of beaches in the Cannon Beach region, nearly all the southern beaches (Tolovana, Silver Point, Hug Point, Falcon Cove, etc.) have continued to lose sand since the late 90s causing more and more beachfront homeowners to seek solutions to erosion, many of which undermine and even steal the actual beach! Coupled with increased development pressures, Cannon Beach's most valuable public resource is on the squeeze and the time to act is today if we want a beach for the people tomorrow!
So Surfrider Foundation has teamed up with a number of local partners, homeowners and city interests to review and make climate-forward recommendations to Cannon Beach's Comprehensive Plan and Foredune Management Plan. These are some of the key code areas guiding laws for developing, and protecting development, adjacent the ocean shore or beach. Through this work we hope to build a more resilient coastal legal framework for protecting both the beach and shoreside property/critical infrastructure. Some of the key areas we are seeking to improve are the incorporation of sea level rise and tsunami overlays, beach project monitoring, alternatives to structural solutions (seawalls/rip rap) and guidance for nature-based solutions to erosion among a few other important areas. Surfrider Foundation's North Coast Chapter is working with staff to build a small coalition partners, educate and build capacity within the community and ultimately advocate for these updates to Cannon Beach planning. Acting on these planning recommendations today not only protects the public beach for tomorrow, but positions Cannon Beach to be more resilient and better positioned to adapt to the rising tides of climate change.