Free Lighthouse Beach

Latest Update! On June 6, the Surfrider Foundation, on behalf of its Coos Bay Chapter, have filed a lawsuit seeking to restore decades-long public access to Lighthouse Beach in Coos Bay, Oregon. Specifically, the lawsuit seeks to reopen and have a court judicially affirm the public’s right to use a specific footpath, located near the southwest end of Lighthouse Way, that leads to Lighthouse Beach. Surfrider and community members have reached out on multiple occasions to the owner of the property upon which the path sits, in an attempt to reach an amicable solution without resorting to litigation. However, the property owner was unwilling to discuss any meaningful restoration of public access and instead tore out the steps at the bottom of the path where it descends to the beach. The Oregon legislature has recognized that it is in the public interest to do whatever is necessary to preserve and protect the scenic and recreational use of Oregon’s ocean shore. In that regard, Surfrider’s lawsuit requests that the Court declare that the public’s longstanding, generational use of the footpath has given rise to public prescriptive rights and that access must be restored.

Coos Bay Citizens Want to Walk on the Beach

Help us Restore Access by Making a Donation today

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Your answers to this public use survey are greatly appreciated, and will be used as Surfrider Foundation investigates historic public use at Lighthouse Beach and on the Lighthouse Way Footpath (shown in the aerial maps below). Please share this public use survey with any other individuals you believe may use or have used the Lighthouse Beach Footpath to access Lighthouse Beach.

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Click green arrow  below to fill out land use survey 

About Us

We are Oregonians who live in the Coos Bay community who love to access the beach whether it be for walking, beach combing, letting our children romp, surfing, kayaking, paddle boarding, and every beautiful beach activity. The loss of access to the special beach is devastating. We are partnering with Surfriders to help restore public access to the beach. 

Contact us at hello@freelighthousebeach.com

What Happened to the Lighthouse Beach Access?

The trail our community has used to access Lighthouse Beach for 80+ years is currently blocked off by the property owner with barbed wire fence. The trail to Lighthouse Beach originated as a public easement that existed expressly for public access before the county vacated it in 1960. Currently, the property is owned in trust of the O’Leary family. Dr O’Leary resides in Eugene is in his nineties and his son Sean who lives in Portland is managing the property. In 

January 2022, cattle panels, coiled barbed wire, flood lights and cameras were put up in the night by Sean O’Leary. Sean is responsible for placing the fence with the assistance of one set of neighbors,  The Slights who provide cameras and electricity to monitor the property or call the police for trespassing. 

There is a granted easement further east to access Lighthouse Beach, but this has just been surveyed. This easement ends in a cliff and would take significant work to build a public access trail. The Slights emphasize the need for the community to use this easement, although they are not providing funding to engineer and design a stairway. The other difficulty with this easement is that is only accessible on the highway making it unsafe for families to access the beach with the traffic.


The Surfrider Foundation is working to restore the public’s long-standing access to Lighthouse Beach in Coos Bay, Oregon, and we need your help. Surfrider members and members of the public have used a footpath off of Lighthouse Way to reach this special beach for generations, but that access is currently being blocked. More than just a unique place to surf, Lighthouse beach is steeped in rich cultural, recreational and even scientific uses unparallel to other locations. Surfrider members and members of the public have used a specific pathway to get to Lighthouse Beach not only for surfing and other recreation, but also as stewards of the beach and community.  Surfrider’s Coos Bay Chapter has hosted multiple beach cleanups at Lighthouse Beach, including an extensive months-long cleanup when a large dock and millions of bits of foam from it washed up on Lighthouse Beach. Additionally, Coos Bay Surfrider has conducted our Blue Water Task Forcewater quality testing program at Lighthouse Beach for nearly 20 years.  Surfrider used this very path for these cleanup and testing activities. 

 

Surfrider’s legal team is currently investigating the historical public use and access at Lighthouse Beach and exploring all appropriate solutions, and we need your support to continue our work. Donations to this campaign will support Surfrider’s work to restore access to Lighthouse Beach, including helping to fund attorneys’ fees incurred by retaining outside expert counsel. (Any excess funds will be used for stewardship at Lighthouse Beach.)

Help us restore access to Lighthouse Beach by making a donation today