Check out the 2 specialty Oregon license plates’ redesigns

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Two of Oregon’s more popular specialty license plates have gotten a redesign this year: the Chinook Salmon plate and the Oregon Cultural Trust plate.

Both are the first revamps since the plates debuted in 1998 and 2003, respectively.

Specialty plates are a way for motorists to rep their favorite aspects of The Beaver State, from Crater Lake National Park to state forests. Proceeds from the sales must also go to a nonprofit organization, according to state law.

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The salmon plate is the oldest specialty plate in circulation in Oregon, first issued in February 1998.

Based on Oregon DMV data that runs through September, there have been about 110,000 salmon plates sold throughout Oregon since then. Proceeds from those sales benefit the Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board, a state agency that works to protect and restore habitats where the species lives and in which it spawns.

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The new plate debuted on Sept. 1 and comes courtesy of Newport artist Gretchen Kirchner, depicting a colorful pair of fish swimming along a riverbed. It costs $30 for a set if they are for used vehicles and $60 for new ones. More than 800 Oregonians have purchased the new Chinook Salmon plates in September, according to the DMV.

The new Cultural Trust plate, designed by Eugene muralist Liza Burns, utilizes 127 images embedded in a colorful, rolling vista of hills, mountains, rivers and the ocean in the distance. The images peppered throughout the design range from cultural images and native animals, to shapes of instruments and other artistic tools of trade.

“The new design, built on a panorama of Oregon geography, reflects and respects the diversity of our culture at a time we need it most,” Cultural Trust Board Chair Niki Price said in a news release about the redesigned plate. “Cultural expression is how our communities define themselves – how they live their everyday lives, their traditions, their heritage, their creativity, their celebrations, their values and how they connect with one another. Our culture is the glue that can bind us together as Oregonians.”

There have been more than 74,000 Cultural Trust plates sold in Oregon since 2003. Updated numbers of how many have been sold since the redesign debuted on Oct. 1 are not yet available.

Proceeds from the Cultural Trust plates go toward “promotion of the Oregon Cultural Tax Credit,” which automatically doubles any investment that Oregonians make to a long list of cultural charities and nonprofits throughout the state.

Specialty plates are also available for motorhomes and travel trailers, though prices may vary. Even ham radio operators can get specialty plates.

The most popular specialty plate, by far, is the Crater Lake National Park plate, which has sold nearly 400,000 pairs of plates since 2002. Proceeds from those plates benefit the National Park’s maintenance and renovation projects.

Other popular specialty plates include the Pacific Wonderland plate, which features an old-school gold on blue design that’s similar to the standard issue plates from 1959 until sometime in the 1970s. It’s been issued since 2009, and proceeds from Pacific Wonderland plates benefits the Oregon State Capitol Foundation and the Oregon Historical Society.

There’s also the Gray Whale or Coastal Playground plate, which benefits Oregon State University’s Marine Mammal Institute in Newport; the Wine Country plates, which benefit the Oregon State Highway Fund; and the Smokey Bear plates, which goes to the Keep Oregon Green Foundation, a nonprofit that promotes wildfire prevention.

Other kinds of plates that differ from the standard Doug fir tree design include so-called group plates, which benefit specific organizations, some of which meet specific criteria before getting the green light for distribution. Plates for veterans fall into this category, as well as plates for state universities and teams such as the Portland Trail Blazers.

All specialty plates can be purchased online at or in-person at your local DMV.

Troy Shinn covers healthcare, natural resources and Linn County government. He can be reached at 541-812-6114 or He can be found on Twitter at @troydshinn.

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