Bastendorff is a special place for our Surfrider chapter, it’s the place we all go to take our dogs to run free, surf (every now and then it’s good), camp and connect with the ocean. Keeping it clean was the inspirational action that led to the development of our chapter and continues to be a focal point today. Bastendorff is unique in that it is one of the few easily accessible spots in Oregon where you can camp for free on the beach – a feature that, while in the spirit of Oregon, comes with a series of challenges.


This summer and fall word in the transient community spread that Bastendorff was the place to be, and both local and traveling individuals setup camp (literally). The result is overflowing garbage cans, debris strewn throughout the dunes and trees, abandoned cars and RV’s, semi-permanent residents and increase in drug paraphernalia (including sharps). Not a safe beach environment for anyone.


Currently, the area where most folks are staying is managed by the BLM and individuals are allowed to stay for 14 days. However, the management of greater area (beach, roads, parking lot) is a bit of a grey area with Oregon Parks and Recreation, BLM and Coos County all owning responsibility over different aspects, creating a logistical challenge when it comes to enforcement of different rules and laws. Compounding this challenge is the fact that BLM Coos Bay currently has only two law enforcement rangers to cover its 320,000 acres that stretch from Reedsport to the California border.


The chapter, with the help of BLM and local businesses has stepped up to the plate and led multiple massive cleanups in the past couple months to help stay ahead of the mess. At the last cleanup they completely filled a 20 yard dumpster!


What makes this whole situation even more tricky is that there are few other options nearby for those in the homeless community to stay. The problem is much more complex than simply kicking folks off the beach and calling it good, a reality understood by all stakeholders and one the chapter has been especially sensitive to. This situation reached a tipping point this winter and due to the concerns voiced by local citizens and chapter members, County and City officials and the BLM have begun working on plans and changes which should help alleviate some of the pressure on Bastendorff and hopefully restore the beach to a safe and clean area that can be accessed and enjoyed by all.