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Locals Only!

Stay Wild

Short Sands is everyone’s Secret Spot

by Scrappers

We all have a place we want to protect. We keep it a secret. We refuse to disclose where photos were taken. We remove road signs. We slash tires. We say, “Locals only!” with our mean faces. We love it so much we build bad-vibe force fields around it. 

I have a secret spot.

It’s my favorite place on the planet.

I wish I could be there every day and feel wild.

It’s where my inner forest embraces my inner ocean. 

My wife and I found our son’s name on a hike here. 

Our son, Camper, has grown up at Short Sands—discovering banana slugs, eating huckleberries, sliding down creek riffles, catching Dungeness crabs, building driftwood forts, exploring barnacled tide pools, and surfing on my back like a koala bear, while his mom watches, snug in the sand.

When I die, this is where they will scatter my ashes. 

Yet, my secret spot has been open to the public since 1913, when Governor Oswald West passed a law that made the entire Oregon coastline public property. In fact, this place is even named after him. Even though we call it Short Sands, the official name is Oswald West State Park, and aside from Crater Lake, it’s the most visited locale in Oregon.

So many people come here to bond with nature and relieve their spirits that they broke the bathroom. For reals! The septic drain field was updated this year to solve a nasty bacteria problem because this place was being “loved to death.” According to Ryan Cruse of Portland’s Surfrider Foundation, this recent fix is a “clean water victory especially important due to Short Sands’ location directly adjacent to the newly established Cape Falcon Marine Reserve.”

The reserve is the second largest in Oregon. Its cliffs are home to thousands of seabird nests, including bald eagles and black oystercatchers. Under the cliffs in the water, the reef and soft gravel sand are home to colorful seaweed, starfish, rockfish, halibut, and the official state seashell, the hairy triton. Farther out, the water gets very dark and cold. This is where giant monsters live in the deep, and I’m too afraid to Google further.

Yes, I said I want to keep it secret, but really… I love Short Sands so much, I’d rather sing its praises to every hermit crab and RV tourist. We all become “locals” when we care so much about a place. It’s called environmental stewardship, but I prefer to call it “Locals only!” Bears and cougars mark their territory with claw marks and piss, but we should mark ours with love and understanding by sharing everything we know in order to protect it. 

Become a Local by getting involved with Surfrider’s Oswald West Action Days. The group focuses on the stewardship of Short Sands and the Cape Falcon Marine Reserve. portland.surfrider.org