Something in the Water.

What is it about the water in this state?

Oregon Governor Tom McCall Catches a Fish

Oregon Governor Tom McCall on the N. Fork Umpqua photo taken by Dan Callaghan

“You and I shouldn’t claim we love Oregon more than anyone else, but that we love Oregon as much as anyone else.” –   Oregon Governor Tom McCall

Governor Earl Snell

Oregon Governor Earl Snell with two Steelhead on the Nehalem River in 1940

“(Oregon) is the greatest recreational and inspirational playground in America.”- Governor Earl Snell

We’re not Recreationsts, We are Oregonians.

Rogue River Mail Boat, Historic Photo

Rogue River Mail Boat’s started in 1895

Since we started Common Waters of Oregon in 2005, one of the political moves that is made every time privatizing or limiting public rivers comes before the state legislature, or the land board, or other committees is calling people who care about public waterways “recreationist”.

Those who would wish to take away or limit your ability travel Oregon rivers often minimize your rights by implying that your need is only recreational, not economic, not fundamental and that somehow their right and need is more legitimate.

Historic Photo of the Sternwheeler, The City of Salem

The City of Salem Sternwheeler, 1890

Whenever you’re at a public meeting and start hearing “recreationist” (or any form of you only being a fisherman, paddler, a rafter,  etc.) being tossed around, understand, someone is trying to paint river travel as unnecessary and frivolous. Don’t let them use that word.   Insist you’re just an Oregonian, representing the rights and concerns for all Oregonians.

Photo Crowded Steamboat  in 1910 on Coquille River

1910 on the Coquille River

Heads Up!

Oregon river rights are again being discussed in the legislature. I deeply appreciate the Oregon AG’s opinion on the matter (nav_brochure), but there are landowners who object to it (clinging to illegal deeds), and some resource users who don’t respect private land above the high water mark in the mark. Makes for a volatile mix.

Scott Richmond Talks About Western Rivers Conservancy On the John Day River

A Visit to the Murtha Ranch on the John Day River

Scott Richmond takes a trip to the John Day river in eastern Oregon and fishes on the Murtha Ranch. This property has been purchased by the Western Rivers Conservancy. Listen to the audio feature and learn why this is good news for fly anglers. (by Scott Richmond)

Click here for audio.

Permission by Scott Richmond 14NOV2010.

Scott Richmond is Westfly’s creator and Executive Director. He is the author of eight books on Oregon fly fishing, including Fishing Oregon’s Deschutes River (second edition).

Secretary of State’s Next River Use Meeting-August 13

At the close of the July 14 conference call, held by Secretary of State Kate Brown, the next river user meeting date was confirmed for August 13 in Salem.

The Secretary of State’s office is coordinating these meetings. She sets the agenda, and e-mails the announcements. To get added to her contact list for those meetings contact Amy Williams in her office. Anyone can be added to the list by emailing a request to or by calling Amy Williams at (503) 986.1523

If anyone needs information about who has been in attendance, the meeting agendas, minutes, or other matters, Amy is the person tracking that information.

Hope that helps anyone interested in getting involved, or catching up on what has been happening.

River User Conference Call July 14

Email from Amy Williams at the Secretary of State’s office 7/8

As discussed during the last River User Workgroup meeting, we are going to begin a series of conference calls, each focused on a different facet of the issue.  The first call is scheduled for Wednesday, July 14th, from 10:00 AM to 12:00 PM.  Dial-in information can be found toward the end of this notice.

Kate Brown has asked Bill Cloran, a Portland attorney formerly with the DOJ, and Bill Moshofsky of Oregonians in Action, to co-chair this call, which will focus on the types of river user behavior to be prohibited by statute up to the line of Ordinary High Water (OHW).  Mr. Cloran provided these suggested regulations as a starting point for the conversation:

1.       Open container law to apply to boaters, no alcohol streamside for fishermen.

2.      No fires within 100′ of OHW except in an established campground or private fire place. No Charcoal BBQs. Stoves OK. No smoking.

3.       Vegetation to be undisturbed. No taking anything from the land.

4.      Comply with property owner’s reasonable restrictions, close gates and stay on paths.

5.      No radios or loud music.

6.       Use in day light hours only.

7.       Present identification if requested by property owner.

8.       Users required to contain and pack out all garbage, domestic animal waste and human waste. This has been the rule in Mt. Rainier NP for at least 30 years and is a condition for getting a climbing permit. It works well once people are used to it.

9.    Users to have no involvement with domestic animals or livestock.

10.   No use of private piers, wharfs or floats or of private recreational equipment (slides and rope swings, etc) except with owner permission.

11.   The use area must be accessed from a public access on the water or from the water. There is no express or implied right to cross the privately owned upland, whether posted, fenced, enclosed or open to reach the access area. No right of access to the water shall arise by prescription upon lands where public use is allowed pursuant to this act.

In addition, attached is page 14 of the 2005 Attorney General’s Opinion, which discusses the Ordinary High Water Mark as defined under federal law and also as defined under ORS 274.005.

Call-in information:

Dial 1-866-476-8702, participant code 388724

This notice is being emailed to a list that has been compiled from attendees at previous meetings and individuals who have expressed interest in participating.  Anyone can be added to the list by emailing a request to or by calling Amy Williams at 503.986.1523.

Is this agenda a constructive use of time? With most of those items already being law, or able to be regulated by various agencies, now, why will it do anygood to retype the laws into a new law? Why are we not talking about education and enforcement of existing laws first? If we actually enforced the laws and just got on with it, instead of debating if we should write the same laws down again, in a new section of laws, maybe we could move forward!

And a few of these items are quite feudal. The landowners being able to demand ID? This is so very not American. Sounds like the serfs having to pay homage to the lords. Can people imagine if any landowner on a street asks you to present your ID because you’re driving your car down a street, or walking down the sidewalk? Has anyone heard of the right to privacy? How exactly do I get to ask the cattle, standing the river, for their ID?

Lets just drop the ridiculous and delve into the items that everyone agrees upon. Wouldn’t it be novel, to just move forward because we agree on some things? Those things we don’t agree upon, can wait until we get a program in place to take on the things we do agree upon.

Judge Grensky finds Rogue River Navigability Determination Requires More Evidence

The 2008 Rogue Navigability Declaration which has been appealed by eight landowners, has had an initial summary judgment delivered by Judge Ron Grensky of Oregon’s First Circuit Court in Medford.

This summary judgement does NOT say the Rogue is not Navigable. It does however say that so far the state has presented insufficient information to make the navigability determination for the river section from mile 100-157.5.

A lack of determination, does not mean the Rogue is not navigable, it merely means it is not yet decided to the satisfaction of Judge Grensky.

In addition, the summary says the state has a responsibility to set a clear property line if such a declaration is made, and that the property line of “ordinary high water” does not meet the state requirements for clarity of property boundaries.

It’s important to note on this secondary item, that additional Oregon administrative rules for a clarity of property boundary, will not invalidate a federal navigability determination, only require a more exacting boundary to be determined to comply with Oregon law.

The state is now required to present the necessary information.

“The Court would like petitioner to prepare an order that complies with this opinion. The Court further will allow the parties to the extent they deem necessary to proceed to trial on any remaining issues.”

The full “Summary Judgement” can be read by clicking the image above or here.