No, it is not illegal to take sand from the beach in Oregon.
But this is not the whole answer to the question. Read on for what you need to know if you are looking to take some of Oregon’s sand home with you after a day on the beach.
The information provided in this article by YesDirt.com is for informational purposes and is subject to change. Laws are updated. Accessibility guidelines and restrictions change. Be sure to confirm the land status and collection rules before you travel to an unfamiliar location or collect any material.
Oregon’s Beaches Are Accessible To the Public (with Limits and Guidance)
Oregonians know and revel in the fact that almost all of Oregon’s 362 miles of beaches are accessible by the public, a few of which are on our top ten list for Rockhounding in Oregon.
However, just because the public can access the beaches, doesn’t mean that there aren’t rules and laws governing that enjoyment.
In fact, there are many. There are laws governing fishing, crabbing, digging for clams, collecting rocks (like agates and jasper), driving on the sand, building fires, and….removing the sand.
Sand Removal is Governed by Oregon Administrative Rule 736-021-0090
The Oregon Administrative Rule 736-021-0090(4) states:
- A person may remove small quantities of natural products from the ocean shore state recreation area for personal use without a permit as provided in sections (a) and (b). However, the department may restrict removal of natural products to specific areas of the ocean short state recreation area, by quantities of material, and by time of year.
- Section (a) states: Souvenirs that may serve as a reminder of a person’s ocean short visit and may include a small quantity of agates and other rocks, driftwood, and similar non-living items collected for non-commercial, personal use in accordance with ORS 390.705 and 390.725. For items such as agates, sand and cobble, each person collecting must use an individual container and may not combine collections in the same container with another person.
- section (a)(A) states: A person may remove no more than a five-gallon volume container per person per day; up to 20 gallons of sand per person per calendar year.
If you want to read the specific rules directly, you can find the OARs about sand removal here.
Also note that Oregon has laws about collecting rocks from rivers as well.
Tip #1: It is legal to take sand from the beach in Oregon, if you follow the rules.
As noted in the above quoted OAR, individuals can take home up to 5 gallons of sand a day if the use is intended to be personal and not commercial, up to 20 gallons a year.
That being said, I wouldn’t recommend that you simply collect sand from just about anywhere to take home.
There are many rules and restrictions on some areas of the Oregon coastline for the protection of plants and endangered birds, such as the snowy plover.
You can get into a lot of trouble for even walking through the snowy plover nesting grounds during the wrong time of year, so I have to assume that you’ll find yourself in just as much trouble if you are digging out a bunch of sand from the snowy plover nesting areas as well.
Tip #2: Just because you can take sand from Oregon’s beaches, doesn’t mean that you should.
Beach sand is not clean/sanitized sand. Just because it looks clean and pretty doesn’t mean that it is.
People often think that it is a good idea to take sand home from the beach for their sandboxes, compost bins, or gardens, or to use in crafts of other projects.
While this could be true to some degree, keep in mind that this sand is not the same as craft sand that you might purchase from the store.
Depending on where you find the sand to take home, people and animals may have used that sand.
Canine Parvovirus (which can be deadly for dogs) can live for up to 7 years in cold sand. This is one of the last things I would want in my yard if I was planning on getting a puppy.
Sand can also harbor other bacteria that can cause gastroenteritis or other stomach illness (think throwing up, diarrhea).
This can be caused by humans and animals using the beach as a bathroom, and also from the ocean water washing up on the sand contaminated as it can be by waste water discharge.
Many parts of the Oregon coast allow vehicles. This could mean that the sand your toddler is playing in has been driven recently and repeatedly, and could also be contaminated by the by products of said vehicles.
Small critters (think sand fleas, for example) live in the sand. These may come home with you. Without meaning to, you could inadvertently introduce that critter to an environment they shouldn’t be in.
Some of these little critters (like sand fleas), can bite and pass along infection causing bacteria.
The sand may also contain small pieces of plants or seeds. By bringing home some sand, you may also be inadvertently introducing plants to an environment they don’t belong in, or could even be harmful in. (Think blackberry bushes).
People think that bringing home a few buckets of beach sand would make a great activity space for a small child.
Given how much small children put sand (or sand covered items) in their mouths, I can’t recommend this as a way to cut costs.
Tip #3: Just because you can collect sand doesn’t mean that you can take it home.
Sand may be legal to collect in Oregon in small amounts, but not every state or country in the world will allow you to bring it home with you.
While TSA states that it is okay to carry on sand in your checked bags and carry on bags, because of the potential to impact the local environment, some places will not allow you to bring it with you.
For example, bringing sand home to the United States with you from other countries may or may not be allowed through customs. Other countries (such as Australia) would not allow it.
Tip #4: Collecting sand is illegal elsewhere in the world.
Just because it is legal in Oregon to collect sand, does not it mean that it is okay elsewhere.
Depending on where you are, you can actually face significant fines or even jail time for taking even small amounts of sand (or stones) from the beaches.
For example, tourists and history buffs regularly try to take sand home from the Normandy Beaches which are historically very significant because of World War II.
But it is against the law to take the sand unless you are an actual veteran, and it is against the law in the US to bring the sand into the county. It could land you in some hot water if you get caught.
As always, it is a good idea to check the local rules and regulations (and not just take someone’s word for it) before you collect sand and take it home with you.
Want to know more about how to go rockhounding? This article answer the three main questions you need to ask before you go on your first rockhounding trip.