The Oregon Shores Conservation Coalition was founded on July 29, 1971. On July 29, 2021, the group will celebrate five decades of protecting the coastal environment with a special slate of activities on its 50th anniversary day. The events, both on the shore and online, are free and open to all.
The day features two nationally renowned speakers whose work has a special bearing on Oregon Shores’ conservation concerns: Geologist Orrin Pilkey, one of the world’s leading experts on the conservation of beaches and management of shorelines; and Mary Ellen Hannibal, author of Citizen Scientist: Searching for Heroes and Hope in an Age of Extinction.
The anniversary day begins with two guided beachwalks, south and north. On the south coast, Fawn Custer, the citizen science trainer for Oregon Shores’ CoastWatch volunteer program, will lead a tidepool-oriented walk at Sunset Bay State Park in Coos County. Meet at the north end of the Sunset Bay parking lot (on the Cape Arago Hwy, south from Charleston) at 10:30 a.m. And on the north, marine ecologist Stewart Schultz, author of The Northwest Coast: A Natural History, will conduct a more sandy-shore-focused tour at Manhattan Beach, just north of Rockaway Beach on Hwy 101, also at 10:30 a.m. For details on both events, see the CoastWatch page on Oregon Shores’ website oregonshores.org/coastwatch.
The remainder of the day’s activities take place online, and are thus accessible to everyone, wherever they may be. The first online hour, beginning at 3 p.m., will include a brief talk by Executive Director Phillip Johnson on Oregon Shores’ history, together with an overview of the organization’s current programs and plans for the next 50 years. Throughout the day and during intermissions, early leaders of Oregon Shores or their descendants will share their memories in short video interviews. Also featured will be a visit to Oregon Shores’ live auction site, and the CoastWatch Mile-by-Mile fund-raising competition.
At 4 p.m., Orrin Pilkey will speak on “The Future of Our Beaches.” Dr. Pilkey is a professor emeritus of Earth and Ocean Sciences at Duke University, and founder and director emeritus of the Program for the Study of Developed Shorelines (PSDS), currently based at Western Carolina University. His 2009 book The Rising Sea (written with Rob Young, his successor as PSDS director) sounded the alarm about the global loss of beaches. His most recent books are Retreat from a Rising Sea (co-authored with daughter, Linda, and son, Keith), which discusses the need to move back from the coast as it retreats due to sea level rise; and Lessons from the Sand, which offers easy experiments for kids (and adults) to do while learning about beach processes. He co-wrote this book with his son, Charles Pilkey, an artist-sculptor, who illustrated it.
After a break, the online programming will resume at 6:30 p.m., with short videos and announcements.
At 7 p.m., Mary Ellen Hannibal will address “The Future Role of Citizen Science in Coastal Conservation.” Hannibal is the author of such works on natural history and conservation as The Spine of the Continent and Evidence of Evolution. Her latest book, Citizen Scientist, is both a fascinating exploration of an often-overlooked aspect of the history of science, and a deeply personal encounter with the natural world and the grave threats to our environment through the lens of citizen science. She will discuss the essential role of popular engagement with monitoring the natural world and providing data to scientists if we are to conserve ecosystems in the face of climate change and species extinction.