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Cape Kiwanda Special Safety Work Group


Get Microsoft SilverlightCape Kiwanda State Natural Area

Cape Kiwanda, in south Tillamook County, is a beautiful coastal park. From a county-run parking lot, you can enjoy the beach, watch dory boats launch and land, explore tidepools, surf, and beachcomb. A massive dune on the north end of the beach marks the entrance to the cape itself, where crumbling sandstone bluffs overlook the ocean. The cape has been a park since 1973, but even before then, people would climb the bluffs to get a closer look. Sandstone cliffs can crack and collapse without warning, and several people died in the 1960s.

After the state purchased the property from a private owner, it erected a chainlink fence to try and keep people back from the cliff edges, but erosion and blowing sand posed challenges. The fence was rerouted and replaced in the mid-90s, and warning signs attempted to persuade people to stay on the landward side of the barrier. Even so, people continued to go around and under the fence, sometimes slipping on the slick soils and falling from cliff edges. One person died in 2009, then six more from 2014-2016.

After a town hall meeting organized by Oregon Senator Arnie Roblan in March 2016, an array of state and local officials, local residents and business owners, and emergency responders formed a work group to confront the issue. As a temporary measure, state park staff shifted some signs, and temporarily extended a fence, but what should be done both at the park and through broader communication outside the park to reach and change the behavior of the kind of people who tend to cross the fence and encounter trouble? As the group discusses this and other questions, you'll find their results here. The group is expected to meet in early spring 2016. Until then, you will find background documents and the results of the town hall here.

Visiting Cape Kiwanda? Don't cross the fence line. There are great views from the established viewpoints. Beyond the fence, the sandstone cliff edge can crumble without warning, even if it looks safe.

People are sharing their ideas for safety improvements:

  • More fences and signs.
  • Changing the location of existing fences, and change signs to more clearly communicate the kinds of risks people face at the park.
  • Signs with more personal information about people who have died.
  • Direct outreach to young adults through social media or high schools.

If you have ideas for improving visitor safety at the park, send us an email.

Background documents

  1. Park background
  2. Map
  3. Historical files
  4. News coverage from 1962 to 2016
  5. Public comments about recent deaths and ideas for improvements
  6. March 2016 town hall agenda
  7. Audio from March 2016 town hall
  8. Cape Kiwanda safety steering committee meeting 1 notes
  9. Cape Kiwanda safety steering committee meeting 2 notes
  10. Cape Kiwanda safety steering committee meeting 3 notes
  11. Cape Kiwanda safety work group report draft 20161018
Send an email to comment on the draft by November 16, 2016.