Beaches Forever, Inc. was launched by State Treasurer Robert W. Straub with Portland attorney Keith Burns and conservationist Janet McLennan, incorporated as an Oregon non-profit on March 26, 1968. The purpose of the organization was to promote the establishment, acquisition, and preservation of public ownership of Oregon ocean beach lands. Beaches Forever, Inc. was an outgrowth of the over 1,000 members of the Committee to Save the Beaches, which formed to oppose relocation of U.S. Highway 101 at Pacific City beginning in 1965, a few years before Oregon’s Beach Bill. Beaches Forever, Inc. was incorporated to spearhead the new campaign and its broader purpose – to guarantee the citizens of Oregon the use and enjoyment of the ocean beaches in perpetuity.
Straub had been a leader in the fight against the widening of U.S. Highway 101. After adopting the Nestucca spit issue as part of his gubernatorial campaign, Straub led 200 activists on a hike along the proposed highway route on Mother’s Day in 1966. Organized by Janet McLennan, Beaches Forever, Inc. provided buses for Portland residents to participate in the hike that started at Camp Winema, four miles north of Neskowin to the Nestucca River. Straub continued pressing for Oregon’s beaches to remain a public benefit for all to enjoy even after losing the gubernatorial race to Tom McCall.
Beaches Forever, Inc. called for a constitutional amendment to the Beach Bill (H.S. 1201) that would confirm public rights to the ocean beaches up to vegetation line. It authorized state acquisition of privately owned beaches and access by means of state bonds, to be paid for with a one cent per gallon gasoline tax on fuel for private motor vehicles over the course of four years. Beaches Forever, Inc. spent the next months gathering thousands of signatures to get their initiative on the November 1968 ballot. Volunteers canvassed outside public buildings in Portland to gather signatures and gain public support. The initiative was accepted and named Measure No. 6 on the ballot. The campaign included organizers and volunteers centered around the slogan “Beaches are for Kids, Not Cars” and included mailings, newsletters, rallies, hikes, and meetings around the passage of Measure 6.
Two other committees worked against Measure No. 6 – Family Highway Protection Committee (FHPC) led by K.E. Rinke, and the Committee to Save Oregon Beaches (CSOB) led by Dr. Robert L. Bacon and Lawrence F. Bitte. While CSOB worked for a constitutional amendment guaranteeing public beaches access, it did not prohibit building highways on or along the beaches. FHPC ran a campaign completely against Measure No. 6 with the advertisement and slogan “Beware of Tricks in No. 6,” built around voting against any gasoline tax.
Despite the campaign efforts of Straub and beaches Forever, Inc., Measure No. 6 was defeated in the 1968 November election. While it was clear that many Oregonians were in favor of keeping Oregon beaches public, they were heavily split over the gasoline tax. Straub was reelected for a second term as State Treasurer, and later served as a Democratic Governor of Oregon from 1976-1979.
Materials in this collection relate to the work of Straub and Beaches Forever, Inc. and feature both documents and marketing materials used in the campaign for Ballot Measure No. 6 in 1968.