OREGON FIELD GUIDE goes deep into the sand bunker that is the Oregon Dunes to explore the rich history, complex management issues and new recreational adventures that are shaping one of the most beautiful and unique landscapes in the West. Tune in to the stations of Oregon Public Broadcasting on Thursday, March 24 at 8:30pm and visit 40 miles of exquisite beauty spanning the entire length of the coast between Florence and Coos Bay.

This half-hour special begins with a personal history of Charlie Day, whose family has owned land in the dunes for almost a century. Also hear from Portland State University professor Curt Peterson who for years studied the mysterious geologic origins of dunes and explains now why the dunes are disappearing.

Many elements play a role in the changing nature of the dunes. From the introduction of motorized vehicles after World War II, to Nixon’s designation of the Dunes as a National Recreation Area, to the 1.5 million visitors who now use the dunes for everything from sandboarding to dune-mushing to ATVing.

But perhaps the biggest threat the dunes face is an invasive European beach grass. The grass is spreading across the dunes, capturing sand blown in from the beach and providing the foundation for plants, then trees to root, eventually turning the dunes to forest. It’s a problem that is also destroying the habitat of the endangered Western snowy plover.

Meanwhile, off-roading abounds in this land of sand and the business it brings is an important element in the area’s economy. We also get the scoop on SandFest, the annual fun-in-the-sand event, and go on a “dunes patrol” with Rod Roberts of the Coos County Sheriff’s Department who discusses issues of noise and trespassing and efforts to curb these problems.

It’s a half hour of stunning photography and facts that help you understand one of Oregon’s treasures, its past and future, a little better.

Videos of the stories featured on FIELD GUIDE are available at opb.org/programs/ofg/ or watch entire programs at watch.opb.org.

Check out the FIELD GUIDE blog at blogs.opb.org/fieldjournal/ or follow us on facebook at facebook.com/oregonfieldguide.


In its 22nd season, OREGON FIELD GUIDE remains a valuable source of information about outdoor recreation, ecological issues, natural resources and travel destinations. OREGON FIELD GUIDE airs Thursday evenings at 8:30pm on the television stations of Oregon Public Broadcasting and repeats on Sundays at 1:30am and 6:30pm. In the Mountain Time zone of Eastern Oregon, the program airs at 9:30pm Thursdays, and at 7:30pm Sundays.

About OPB

OPB is the largest cultural and education institution in the region, delivering excellence in public broadcasting to 1.5 million people each week through television, radio and the Internet. Widely recognized as a national leader in the public broadcasting arena, OPB is a major contributor to the program schedule that serves the entire country. OPB is one of the most-used and most-supported public broadcasting services in the country and is generously supported by 120,000 contributors.