Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Common Waters in Oregon

Being a Washington resident, I am sometimes oblivious to what is going on in Oregon and have to rely on friends to help me stay up to date on what is going on. My good friend Sam Sickles sent me this message and I want to pass it on to you. Remember it is only a few minutes of your time and can benefit us all. Please read the synopsis below:

The Oregon Senate committee Environment & Natural Resources will hear river rights legislation SB 1060 this Thursday February 4th, at 1pm. It’s very important that they receive public input on this matter. It’s a very very short legislative session and in the course of a two hour meeting in Salem, much can change.

Please write to the Senators on the Environment & Natural Resources committee and also send that same letter to your own senator. Below are the e-mail links for the Environment & Natural Resources committee.

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

To find your own district Senator’s addresses, email, and phone numbers, use this link.

We hope that you’ll customize your letter to mention why you care about public rivers for Oregon. A unique letter is more effective than copy & paste letter, and copy & paste letter is better than nothing. Here’s the main points that we hope you’ll make.

Dear Senator ,
River rights are an important part of this state’s infrastructure. Many businesses and communities across this state were founded due to river travel, and are supported by river travel. It’s critical that we never give up our river rights.

Senate Bill 1060 is not ideal, it has several problems that could result in diminished river rights, but the amendment Senate Bill 1060-1 fixes nearly all of those problems. In addition to the changes in SB 1060-1, a few more items will help clarify the bill and make it a better piece of legislation.

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”. Class 1 and Class 2 would be confused with the much more popular and widely accepted terms that refer to the amount of rapids in a river. By using the terms “floatable” and “non-floatable” it will greatly reduce that confusion. The terms Class 1 and Class 2 should 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”. This clarification helps 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. Delete 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.
With these changes to SB 1060-1, it would be a good piece of legislation for Oregon. It would be simple and clear codification of the Public Use Doctrine that has always been critical for river travel and commerce in this state. Codification will help with law enforcement.

Finally, the people of Oregon cannot not support any quit claim amendment that may be proposed to this legislation. Navigable waterways are a critical 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 natural resources that were set aside at statehood, for the people of the state. Our public rivers have been and will always be good for the people. Even before we had the wisdom to pass the Oregon Beach Bill in 1970, we already had public rivers. Rivers that were navigable in 1859 are “Common Highways… and Forever Free,” and we safeguard safeguard that during this very short legislative session.

Rivers rights are important to me……

Please support SB 1060-1 and the changes suggested here. Together these changes would make a good piece of legislation for Oregon.


John/Jane Q. Public

Please send your letters today and ask others to send their letters as well.

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