By Bill Eagle
as printed in the June Issue of the Columbia River Reader
In the News: St. Helens -May 2001, Columbia County Circuit Court Judge Ted Grove, suggested that the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife expand their fishing and hunting enforcement roles. He, in essence, suggested that they act as Obscenity police at a Sauvie Island beach favored by Nudists.
Collins beach is a mile long, clothing optional area, located along the Columbia River. It is situated in the Columbia County section of Sauvie Island. It is on land owned by Oregon Fish and Wildlife, and is in an area that normally does not have much people. The beach is just north of the old Elmer Peterson Dairy Farm, the last large tract of private land, as you pass the Wildlife Check Station.
Many years ago, the old Soil Conservation Service had seeding trials on this tract of land. The beach was created by the Army Corps of Engineers. The Corps piped sand from channel dredging and deposited it along the river banks. The actions of wind and water worked upon the sand causing it to erode and wash back into the river; hence the need for doing some soil stabilization work. The SCS, along with Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife planted Autumn Olive, Amur Honeysuckle; Sickle keeled lupine, willows and European beach grass to help hold the loose dredge sands. Each year, the SCS, had to do an evaluation of these seedings.
Strange that Judge Grove should mention Fish and Wildlife enforcing obscenity regulations. Enforcement is not a new role for ODF & W. I remember during the mid 1970's traversing the Site with Frank Newton. Frank was manager of the Wildlife refuge, he and I often worked together.
The beach was off the main road, and we parked in an "almost driveway." It was a cleared pathway made from the tracks of 4 wheelers or other vehicles belonging to people attempting to drive to the beach. I gathered up my plant evaluation forms and Frank and I got out of his pickup. We walked along the beach looking for willows, Autumn Olive, honeysuckle and beach grass. I glanced over a hill of sandy dredgings and noticed a woman sunning herself on a beach blanket. I had to admit, that I had to look twice, perhaps even more than twice. The lady was wearing a swimming suit, sans halter. No top. I seem to recall that she was not all that attractive, but I do remember that she had big boobs.
Frank mutters under his breath a short expletive. He walks over to the lady and says:
"Excuse me, but this is a public beach. Would you please put your top back on."
Frank had nerve. I just stood there staring at my bell bottoms, while he was heroically defending morality by explaining the law to a topless lady with big boobs.
She looks up at Frank and smiles. "No!"
"Huh" thinks I, "She is refusing to put her top on"
"I have the authority; to write you a citation if you don't comply" relates Frank.
"Write me a citation" says the lady.
I could not believe it. This was my first introduction to what would eventually become a local haven for people who liked to enjoy sunshine while in the buff.
I spent a short time working in offices in other counties, and I was pleased in 1980 to find myself transferred back to St. Helens.
One of the first things that occurred when I got to my new office was a telephone call from my friend Lloyd. Lloyd was in charge of the Portland Field office, and they had been doing the plant evaluations on Collins Beach. Lloyd wanted me to do him a favor. He wanted me to take over the responsibility for doing some beach front plant evaluations.
"No problem" says I. "You can call me Mr. Accommodation. Glad to help you out".
Ray was my Technician. He was tall lanky, and very wise in the ways of the world.
"You going out to Nipple beach?" asks Ray
Ray replies: "That's what the people call it now."