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Ocean hazards at Bandon, Oregon and scenario for coastal development Public Deposited

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  • The community of Bandon is located on the southern half of the Oregon coast, 140 kilometers north of the California border and 40 kilometers south of Coos Bay (Figure 1). Part of the city occupies the low-lying (average 3-meter elevation) area along the south bank of the Coquille River, while another portion is positioned on a generally flat terrace having elevations of 25-30 meters (Figure 2). In a 1963 development study, the Bandon Planning Commission wrote: "the long sandy beach below the bluff, the high rocks offshore, the mouth of the river flanked by rock jetties -- these are features that help to give Bandon its special quality." Bandon's 'special quality' remains to this day. There has been only a small population growth since the early 1960s, increasing from 1653 inhabitants in 1960 to 2490 in 1989, primarily a result of tourism and the subsequent retirement by individuals who found Bandon an agreeable place to live. One local business that has catered to the tourist trade is the cranberry industry, with Bandon the nation's fifth-largest producer. The fishing and timber industries, once mainstays, have declined significantly over the last decade. Reduced employment for young adults has resulted in many having to leave Bandon. The lack of replacement industries has accentuated the image of Bandon as a tourist resort. With its natural charms, the city of Bandon now appears to be approaching a crossroads. With an increasing reliance on tourists, there are growing pressures for development. This has sparked controversy, particularly over the possible development of a land parcel located on the low-lying accreted land between the south jetty at the mouth of the Coquille River and the terrace (bluff area) (Figure 3). The north portion of the lowland, immediately adjacent to the jetty, is county park • property; the rest is privately owned. Specific attention is focused on the property immediately behind the dune ridge. Development of this site could bring condominiums, motels, and high-density housing. Longtime residents -- and a good many newcomers -- decry the developers' intent to build new resorts on privately held ground that they would prefer to see left in a more natural condition [Halliday, 1991]. If development does occur, whether on the accreted lands or on the terrace periphery, what are the potential ocean hazards implicit in this scenario? This report will survey the coastally-oriented parcels of property in the city of Bandon in order to judge the resistance of the land to withstand the forces of the ocean. Included among the hazards are winter storm waves and their accompanying erosional patterns, the changing level of the sea relative to land levels which are also shifting due to tectonic activity, the potential for severe earthquakes, and the occurrence of tsunamis generated by seismic events. In short, this study will attempt to ascertain the degree of harmony between the city of Bandon and the forces of the dynamic ocean. New development must be reasonably sure of a lasting presence.
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