All beaches in the State of Oregon are designated public recreation areas, and are jointly managed by both the State of Oregon and the local municipalities whose boundaries encompass portions of the beach. The foresight of the State in declaring beaches public recreation areas ensures that our beautiful beaches are free for everyone to enjoy and use, visitors and residents alike. It also means that we all have a responsibility to protect and care for our beaches as common stewards. Visit the State Department of Land Conservation's Coastal Management Plan for more information on how the State is helping to protect and manage our coastal beaches.
All public streets and alleys which abut the ocean shore are minimally maintained by the Public Works Department as beach access points. There are 44 public beach access points. Ease of access varies depending on the location. Tolovana Wayside is an ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) accessible beach access point.
Beach Water Quality Monitoring
The Beach Monitoring Program is an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) grant funded program; that is designed to help States monitor the water quality along their coasts and estuaries. Tests are run on coastal waters to determine whether or not there are any pollutants present. The Oregon Department of Human Services (DHS) is testing for Enterococci, a bacterial microorganism found in human and animal waste. The correlation of Enterococci with swimming-associated gastrointestinal illness in both marine and fresh water is greater than what we see in other bacterial organisms such as E-coli. As long as the level of bacteria is below 156 cfu/100ml ((cfu) Colony Forming Units), the water is considered safe. Enterococci gets into beach waters from a variety of natural and man-made sources such as mammal and seabird waste, or streams that empty onto the beach while carrying contamination such as storm water runoff, sewage treatment plants or animal waste.
The Oregon Beach Monitoring Program began its first full season of testing in May 2003. Through coordination with the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), 52 beaches are tested for the indicator organism Enterococcus. The beaches are tested using a three tier system in the peak system from May to September and are tested once a month throughout the rest of the year. During the peak season the Tier 1 beaches are tested once a week, the Tier 2 beaches are tested every other week and Tier 3 beaches are tested once a month. In Cannon Beach, the following are test locations: Ecola Ramp, Haystack Rock, the mouth of Ecola Creek, Tolovana Wayside Park, and Indian Beach. To date, these waters have been within safe margins for Enterococcus.
Beach Safety and Use
The City has a Lifesaving Program which operates from late May through early September on our beaches. The Lifesaving Program page has information on ways that visitors can safely enjoy their time on the beach. The area around Haystack Rock is designated a marine sanctuary and is subject to special care to maintain the fragile balance established there between human and marine life. Overnight camping is not allowed on City beaches, but the State of Oregon does have parks which allow camping. Check out the Winter Beach Safety Tips!
Dogs on the Beach
Dogs are allowed on the beach, as long as they are on a leash or under voice control of the owner. It is the owner's responsibility to ensure that the dog is physically controlled.
Watercraft on the Beach
If you are planning to launch a rigid watercraft such as metal or fiberglass canoes and boats from the shore of the Pacific Ocean in Cannon Beach, you must have a permit issued by the Police Department. Launching of inflatable devices such as rafts, boats, air mattresses, inner tubes, and similar devices may be restricted by Lifeguards on a case-by-case basis when necessary for public safety or the safety of an individual.
Vehicles on the Beach
Motor vehicles are not permitted on the beach unless a permit has been issued by either the Cannon Beach Police Department or the Oregon Department of Parks and Recreation. The Police Department issues short duration beach access permits at no cost for persons with disabilities and for vehicles being used to gather driftwood for personal use. The Police Department issues 12-month beach access permits for launching and recovering Dory and Zodiac fishing boats. Beach access for vehicles with a valid permit is at Tolovana Wayside. The Police Department cannot issue other special use permits such as beach weddings, organized events, contractors, etc. These types of special access/usage must be approved by the Oregon Department of Parks and Recreation. However, the Police Department does provide Parks & Rec application forms and fax/telephone numbers.
Fireworks on the Beach
The possession or discharge of all types of fireworks is strictly prohibited on the beach within the City of Cannon Beach (OAR 736-21-0100 (1), ORS 480.120, and Cannon Beach Municipal Code 9.16.010). This includes the 4th of July holiday. Violations will result in the issuance of the appropriate citations and the confiscation of any and all fireworks. A citation issued under ORS 480.120 alone may result in a maximum fine of $2,350.
The Cannon Beach City Council adopted an ordinance, on August 5, 2008, for the purpose of recognizing the need for marine reserves in Oregon’s territorial sea and supports the direction of Governor Kulongoski to the ocean policy advisory council to provide advice on appropriate sites for marine reserves.
Click on the links below for more information on Marine Reserves:
For more information on Oregon State Parks, visit the State Parks website, or email Tony Stein. View the City's policy for commenting on Oregon Parks Department Miscellaneous Use Permit for NonTraditional Park Activities.