Nonprofit Sues Over Oregon Coast Access in Coos Bay

The lawsuit alleges barbed wire and a gate blocked access to Lighthouse Beach.

WELCOME TO COOS BAY: Signage along Highway 101. (Oregon Department of Transportation)

Public access to Oregon’s coastline is a proud state heritage dating back to Gov. Tom McCall. This week, an environmental nonprofit filed suit over it.

In March 2021, the lawsuit alleges, barbed wire and a gate installed on Coos Bay property owned by the Jay O’Leary Living Trust made the trail to Lighthouse Beach impassable. The Surfrider Foundation filed a lawsuit June 6 to restore public access to the beach.

Mike Sargetakis, an attorney for the foundation, says the nonprofit’s Coos Bay chapter needs access to conduct beach cleanups and monitor water quality.

“We’ll get into some talks with them and get the path opened,” Sargetakis tells WW. “But we are fully prepared to litigate this one and get the path opened up for the public to enjoy.”

The organization “reached out on multiple occasions to the owner of the property upon which the path sits,” but the property owner was “unwilling to discuss” reopening public access, according to a statement released by Surfrider.

The trust could not immediately be reached for comment.

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