Support Amdendment SB 1060-1

SB 1060-1 amendment was issued last Friday from Senator Bates office and it looks good.

The bill’s goal is to confirm the public river rights that exist as part of  the Public Use Doctrine which was described by the Attorney General of Oregon in 2005 (#8281).   It confirms the rights of the public to utilize floatable waterways of the state and it provides definitions of floatable so that law enforcement, the public, and landowners adjacent to floatable waterways all have clarity on this important issue.

We have a few more suggestions to help improve understanding and enforcement.

  • The use of  the term “Class 1” and “Class 2” waterways should be replaced throughout the document with the respective terms “floatable” and “non-floatable”.  We suggest this clarification because Class 1 and Class 2 would be confused with the much more popular and widely accepted use of these terms that refers to the amount of rapids in a river.    By using the terms “floatable” and “non-floatable” it will greatly reduce that confusion.  We suggest that the terms Class 1 and Class 2 be replaced throughout the document with the terms “floatable” and “non-floatable.”
  • Page 3, line 4  after the word “waterway”  insert the phrase “to protect public health and safety or protect natural resource values of the waterway”.    We suggest this clarification to direct that any rules related to controlling the public should stem from concern for these issues.
  • Page 4 line 8 delete the phrase “related to conflicts.”   There is no definition of the word “conflict” in the document.  The use of this word often masks a more definitive description of littering, or trespass, or harassment, or menacing.   All of those words offer much more understanding and accuracy of any problem that arises, and may help point to more simple and accurate solution while the word “conflict” does not.  When the public litters along the highway we do not call it “conflict”, nor do we call it “conflict” if a private landowner adjacent to a highway damages the roadway or makes it unsafe.  “Conflict” by it’s nature is impossible to manage, these other issues are very possible to address.   So we suggest the deletion of the phrase “related to conflicts.”
  • Page 4 line 26 delete the word “unreasonably”.  This law codifies the public’s right to be on floatable waterways,  there should be no level of harassment that is allowed.    Delete the word “unreasonably”.
  • Page 4 line 30 after the word “group” insert “with representatives of from the public’s various water use pursuits and interest and owner’s of property adjacent to floatable waterways”  It’s important that any advisory body represent the wide array of public interest in waterways from scientific concerns, sport, commercial interest, historical interest, and the interest of land owners.

Common Waters of Oregon urges you to support SB 1060-1 Amendment and the proposed amendments we’ve listed. Without this amendment, SB 1060 may be problematic for the state of Oregon and hence for the people of Oregon. With this amendment, it’s an good bill for the people of this state.

According to the committee agenda, this bill and this amendment are likely to be heard in the Senate  Environment and Natural Resources Committee this Thursday February 4th. You can offer your support for the adoption of this critical amendment by writing to the members of the Oregon Senate Environment and Natural Resources Committee.

Environment and Natural Resources Committe

Jackie Dingfelder, Chair
Jason Atkinson, Vice-Chair
Brian Boquist
Mark Hass
Floyd Prozanski

To find any Senator’s’ addresses, email, and phone numbers, use this link.

A final note, Common Waters of Oregon will not support any quit claim amendment that may be proposed to this legislation.  Navigable waterways are an integral part of the 1859 Admission Act that made Oregon a state.   Public rivers are in the best interest of the people of the state, they are travel corridors and a natural resource that was set aside at statehood, for the people of the state.  CWO continues to stand behind the fundamental value that our public rivers have been and will always be good for the people.  Even before we had the wisdom to pass the quintessentially Oregon Beach Bill in 1970, we already had public rivers.  Rivers that were navigable in 1859 are “Common Highways…  and Forever Free,” and we will work to safeguard that during this legislative session.