NAC Advisory
Sauvie Island, Oregon
February 3, 2004

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View Appeals Court Ruling - January 28, 2004 |
  
(FROM NATURIST EDUCATION FOUNDATION / TONI EGBERT NATURIST LAW LIBRARY)
View discussion of 2001 court case (Includes links to Findings and Ruling) |
  
(FROM NAC'S WHITE PAPERS)

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                     NATURIST ACTION COMMITTEE
                             ADVISORY
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                 http://www.naturistsociety.com/NAC
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DATE   : February 3, 2004
SUBJECT: Sauvie Island, Oregon
TO     : All naturists

Dear Naturist,

A recent decision by an Oregon appeals court has affirmed a lower court's ruling concerning Sauvie Island and various factors dealing with management of the traditional clothing-optional usage there. The Naturist Action Committee advises naturists that this news is not a cause for alarm. The responsible nude use of Collins Beach on Sauvie Island is not threatened by this action.

Naturists and others have become understandably but unnecessarily alarmed by headlines like "Court orders nude beach restrictions on Sauvie Island." Unintentionally or otherwise, the sensational headlines and accompanying superficial stories have been misleading. The "restrictions" to which they refer are not unreasonable ones. Just as important, they are old news.

A BRIEF BACKGROUND

Sauvie Island is located at the confluence of the Willamette and Columbia Rivers, northwest of Portland. Portions of Sauvie Island, including the part that is now designated as Collins Beach, have been used nude since the 1970s and before.

In 1990, Glen Mark and Teri Powers, who were living in Alaska, purchased a home on Sauvie Island after making a visit there during the winter, when nude activity is minimal. Some have said that Mark and Powers were notified of the proximity of the already-established and well known nude beach, which is a mile or so from the property they bought. However, the couple denies being aware of the traditional nude use of the nearby public land.

The Sauvie Island Wildlife Area Beach Use Plan was adopted in September of 1993. The Plan called for the installation of informational signage and the planting of cottonwoods and shrubs in a buffer area between the clothing optional beach and the property of Mark and Powers.

In 1996 Mark and Powers, who are both attorneys, sued the state, seeking damages for diminished property values and demanding that the nude beach be declared a nuisance and closed to nudity. The Columbia County Circuit Court denied both the request for damages and the request for elimination of nudity at the beach. Mark and Powers appealed. In 1999 an Oregon state appeals court affirmed the denial of damages, but reversed and remanded the specific claim that asked for injunctive relief.

After a delay of close to a year, Mark and Powers reactivated their lawsuit in the lower court. Recognizing that the interests of the State and its defense attorneys do not always coincide with those of naturists, the Naturist Action Committee immediately filed a motion to become an independent intervenor in the case. Over the strenuous objections of Mark and Powers, NAC's status as intervenor was approved.

On May 9, 2001, the trial court issued its ruling in the lawsuit. The clothing-optional status of Collins Beach itself was unaffected. In fact, the trial court judge declared in a cover letter delivered earlier, "I can not find that public nudity without more is a nuisance public or private."

However, the judge determined that "more" was going on in a very limited area. Specifically, he found that a repeated encroachment of nude people was occurring on or very near the private property of Mark and Powers. That specific activity was labeled a "private nuisance," and the court directed the State of Oregon to abate it.

The 2001 ruling required the State to:

    a) enhance the plantings in the buffer area,
    b) place and maintain signs to identify the clothing-optional area,
    c) police the perimeter of the clothing-optional beach,
    d) address any incident of inappropriate public sexual behavior,
    e) develop and distribute pamphlets advising users of the boundaries, both geographical and behavioral.

Most naturists recognized those as the very things we would expect at a clothing-optional public beach if we were developing the beach ourselves. The ruling, which left intact the clothing-optional use of Collins Beach and reaffirmed reasonable conditions for its use, was a positive outcome for naturists.

THE RECENT APPELLATE COURT RULING

The State of Oregon appealed the 2001 ruling of the trial court. In its recent ruling, the state appeals court took the Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife to task, saying, in part, that its "efforts to date have been woefully inadequate."

The ruling of the state appeals court simply affirms the 2001 ruling of the lower court and insists that the State live up to the previously established standards.

WHAT HAS NAC DONE?

Over the objections of Mark and Powers, the Naturist Action Committee established its position as an intervenor in this case when it was reconsidered by a trial court in 2001. Lawyers for NAC took the lead in putting on the defense in the 2001 case.

WHAT SHOULD I BE DOING?

This is an Advisory. The Naturist Action Committee is not asking you to take specific action at this time. Collins Beach on Sauvie Island remains open for clothing-optional use within the boundaries established by the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Department. Please continue to use the beach in a responsible manner.

Watch for NAC Action Alerts, Advisories and Updates on this and other important issues.

MORE INFORMATION

For further background on Sauvie Island, check the NAC web site:

  www.naturistsociety.com/NAC

Click on ALERTS, ADVISORIES AND UPDATES and then select CURRENT to see this NAC Advisory. Included with it is a link to the complete text of the recent ruling of the court of appeals, as archived in the Toni Egbert Naturist Law Library on the web site of the Naturist Education Foundation. Also included are links to documents from the Sauvie Island case tried in 2001.

NAC will continue to monitor this situation carefully.

Naturally,

Bob Morton
Executive Director
Naturist Action Committee

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Naturist Action Committee (NAC) - PO Box 132, Oshkosh, WI 54903
Executive Dir. Bob Morton      - <ctnudists@aol.com>
Board Member Mark Storey       - <storey98@aol.com>
Online Rep. Dennis Kirkpatrick - <naturist@sunclad.com>
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