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Senate Bill 928 ... It ain\'t over yet...


The Senate Rules Committee on SB 928 will take place next week. They postponed the hearing because a number of amendments were proposed following the Governor’s statement on Monday.

Unfortunately for me, I will not be able to testify next week, however, I will submit written testimony. I also fervently hope others of the greater Westfly community will step up in my place. Nothing has more impact than butts in the chairs at these hearings. And you can bet the other side will have plenty this time.

If you cannot testify in person, please send your testimony to:

Judith Callens
Committee Adminstrator
900 Court Street NE Room S401
Salem, OR 97301

Or you can fax or email it to her:

503-986-1738 (fax to her attention)

[email protected]


The following 14 points came from a staff summary of the proposed changes to Senate Bill 928. These changes will make more sense to you if you read the original bill. You can access it at the following link:


On the surface, we have won a victory because many of the changes affect some of the issues we have been fighting for, however, in my opinion this bill remains exactly as what it is… a way for the John Day River Property Owners to stall the John Day River Navigability Study forever. This bill effectively puts it off for another 4 1/2 years. It offers no resolution. I can guarantee you that in the 2008 session, we will fight this exact same battle! It will be the Fifth Legislative Session for this to happen. Is that really what we want?

The first change suggests the Legislature will best serve the people of Oregon by having more discussions. I say B.S! I have a copy of a 1919 newspaper article about a trespass case on the John Day River. The courts declared the defendant not guilty after his attorney cited 10 similar court cases in which the verdict was not guilty because of the Public Trust Doctrine and the State Admissions Act. That was 84 years ago. More discussion changes absolutely nothing.

Regardless of how many discussion the state has, it will not alter the landowner’s stated position… keep the recreational river users off our rivers. And it will not alter the federal law… it a river is navigable in fact, it is navigable in law. I believe it is in the best interest of all Oregonians to resolve this issue once and for all.

Today I received a copy of a list put out by the U.S. Coast Guard titled, FEDERAL NAVIGABLE WATERS IN OREGON. Listed as river number 42: The John Day River (The Dalles). Furthermore, I learned that the State of Oregon has filed for and received Federal Money to maintain boating programs on the John Day River under this designation. If the State does not declare the John Day Navigable, wouldn’t that constitute receiving Federal Money under a false pretense. What are the ramifications of that in Federal Court?

This bill is an expensive redundancy. It pretends to give the Oregon Parks Department the Authority to work with everyone and create a plan for the John Day River. It is an absolute fact of Existing Oregon Law, that the Oregon Parks Department already has explicit authority to accomplish what this bill sets out to do. The following came from an email sent by Bill Butler:

“As you are probably aware the John Day River has been declared a State Scenic Waterway. State Parks has been charged with its administration. They have developed a very comprehensive management plan. I suggest that you review its contents as found in ORS 390.805 - 390.925. Pay particular attention to "Policy" as described in ORS 390.815
Also, to "Administration by State Parks" as found in ORS 390.845.
It appears that State Parks has very tight control over the activities on the John Day river including the North Fork, Middle Fork, and South Fork within 1/4 mile of either bank.”

Read it for yourselves at the following link:


The very redundancy of this legislation warrants an outcry by all Oregonians. It represents government waste and hypocrisy pure and simple. And that needs to be pointed out to every Senator in Salem.

All this bill does is establishes more advisory committees, task forces, and required reports. It creates an endless round of meetings, upon meetings, upon meetings. It is a waste of the taxpayers, time, materials, and money. Speaking of money, Mr. Butler offers this up in another email sent to our friends in Salem regarding THE COST OF THE EXISTING JOHN DAY RIVER MANAGEMENT PLAN!

“Just to let you know some facts and figures I obtained from Dan Tippy of the BLM Prineville office. Dan serves as the assistant river manager.

It took 2 1/2 years to make the plan after they got started in earnest.

His best estimate was that it cost somewhere between $500,000 - $1,000,000 to prepare the plan.

His best estimate of the annual cost to administer the plan was $200,000 -$ 300,000.

It will be interesting to see what the State comes up with in the way of costs and where the money will come from.”

The cost factor must be hammered home with all the members of the Joint Ways and Means Committee and the Senate Rules Committee.

Based on what I see here, I would say we came a long way but not nearly far enough. This moves toward a Montana type plan, however, this bill represents a 99% win for Senator Ted Ferrioli and the thirty or so John Day River land owners that agreed to, “Continue fighting navigability at any cost.” They put off the study for another four or five years, and the rest of us get the shaft.

Once again, I will contact every Senator and let them know how I feel. I say enough is enough. I will urge every Senator to vote no on this expensive and unwarranted stall. I say stop the legal maneuvers, stop the stalling, stop the pandering to a select few elite landowners. Kill Senate Bill 928 and make the State Land Board live up to its responsibility to all Oregonians. Do the John Day River Navigability Study and do it now… not five or ten years from now, but now! I hope some of you will agree with me and do the same.



WHAT THE MEASURE DOES: Establishes process for development of recreation management plan for recreational use of waterway. Provides assurances and remedies for landowners on waterways for which recreation management plan is developed. Identifies uses for which person needs permission of landowner before using waterway or banks and submerged lands of waterway. Establishes Recreational Waterway Account. Requires State Land Board to direct Division of State Lands to notify affected property owners adjacent to waterway or part of waterway that may be subject of navigability study. Allows for suspension of navigability study if recreation management plan is being developed or implemented for waterway that is subject of study. Declares emergency, effective on passage.


Work Group proposal
Differences from original SB 928 language:

1. States legislative finding that it is in the public interest to continue public discussion to define the limits of and managing pubic and private rights on waterways not yet declared navigable

2. Limits definition of “waterway” to the John Day River between river mile 10 and river mile 184 (deleting “a segment for which a recreation management plan is being developed”)

3. Deletes development of recreational management plans and related language

4. Directs the State Parks and Recreation Department (Department) to be responsible for coordinating with local, state and federal agencies in implementing provisions

5. Directs the Department to establish a John Day River Advisory Committee to advise the Department regarding implementation; with Advisory Committee membership to include affected parties such as local, state and federal agencies, tribal interests, landowners, recreational interests and other interested parties

6. Establishes Advisory Committee purpose to identify issues and concerns of landowners and the public on the waterway and methods to resolve conflicts along the waterway and may identify public and private funding sources

7. Identifies issues and concerns that may be examined by Advisory Committee including public health, access facilities, user education, riparian zone protection and restoration, conservation of natural, historical and archaeological resources, protection of public and private resources, compensation to private landowners for damage (described under section 5(5), enforcement of statutes, administrative rules and ordinances, and signage for ownership and allowable uses

8. Directs the State Land Board (Board) to require the Division to suspend the initiation or development of a navigability study for the waterway (John Day) during the effective period of these provisions (repealed January 2, 2008)

9. Provides that a person may use, without landowner permission, an area of the banks of the waterway up to the line of ordinary high water (deleting area within 10 feet of the water’s edge)

10. Prohibits a person from using a waterway or the banks, unless granted permission by landowner, for the discharge of firearms except in hunting waterfowl

11. Requires the Board to appoint a Statewide Waterway Public Use Task Force with the purpose of studying and recommending legislative and administrative methods to bring statewide resolution to the issue of the rights of the public to use and the rights of private property owners to control the use of the beds and banks of waterways

12. Directs the Division of State Lands, Parks and Recreation Department, State Marine Board, and the Department of Fish and Wildlife to assist the Task Force

13. Requires the Task Force to report periodically to the State Land Board and provide a final report including resolution recommendations to the Seventy-fourth Legislative Assembly no later than January 31, 2007

14. Deletes Sections 10, 11, 12 and 13 thereby restoring current law under ORS 274.404 (Administrative determination of navigable waterway; rules; procedure) and 274.406 (Declaration of state’s claim)

You read that last one right. In 4 ½ years from now we revert right back to exactly where we are now. Absolutely Zero Progress from this legislation.

I do support the formation of a State Wide Waterway Public Use Task Force. It will be a great tool to educate the public regarding the Federal Laws and Navigable Waterways. All trails could lead to the Montana Law.

I would also support this bill in a heartbeat if the John Day River Navigability Study was not in the equation. But seeing as how this bill was introduced for the sole purpose of allowing a tiny minority of John Day River Property owners to hold the rest of the state hostage, I say kill SB 928 and get on with the study.

17,526 Posts
Re: Senate Bill 928 ... It ain\'t over yet...

Thanks for staying on top of this - you're a real hero!

1,316 Posts
Re: Senate Bill 928 ... It ain\'t over yet...

Thanks for all of your hard work!!!! I am making a few calls to some Senators. I hope that we can make it happen. Where did you find the old news paper article. I would like to get a copy of that. Hard for them to cry for more time and discussion if we can show them that this has been going on for so long. We need to find a way to deal with this issue in one fell swoop for all rivers in the state.
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