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Historical Filled Lands Advisory Group (FLAG)

Background Information

At statehood, Oregon was granted ownership of the submerged and submersible lands (“beds and banks”) of navigable and tidally influenced waterways under the Equal Footing Doctrine, a provision of the U.S. Constitution. In conjunction with the Public Trust Doctrine, this ownership embodies the principle that the state holds title to these lands for public navigation, recreation, fisheries and commerce. 

The Department of State Lands, the administrative arm of the State Land Board, authorizes uses of state-owned submerged and submersible lands. Revenue generated from these authorizations is deposited into the Common School Fund for Oregon’s K-12 public schools. 

Over many years, some of these lands have been filled, creating uplands. Most often, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and port authorities placed dredge materials from navigation channel creation and maintenance on these lands, using them in effect as disposal sites. 

Ownership often was not resolved after the fill was created, and as a result, other parties have come to believe they own these filled parcels. County tax records are not always accurate with regard to ownership, and in recent decades, title companies have included an exclusion in their title reports for the state’s right to claim these submerged and submersible lands. All of this creates a cloud on title for these parcels. 

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Legislative and Land Board Actions

In the 1960s, the State Land Board recognized that unregulated filling of waterways had a negative environmental impact and that state ownership of these newly created – or “filled” – lands caused confusion for adjacent upland land owners. In 1963 the Oregon Legislature addressed the need to regulate filling of its waters by passing the New Lands Act (ORS 274.905 – ORS 274.940). This legislation not only gave the State Land Board authority to sell, lease and trade state-owned filled lands, but established a procedure for the Department of State Lands to follow when establishing their market value.

In 2009, the Land Board further clarified the mechanism for establishing the value of these lands and stipulated that the board may sell these lands to adjacent landowners. All of the net statutory revenues generated by DSL, which includes revenues from land sale transactions, are deposited into the Common School Fund.  Currently, there is no comprehensive mapping or appraised value of all historically filled lands, but their estimated fair market value is in the millions of dollars.

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Filled Lands Advisory Group (FLAG)

As the 2013 Oregon Legislature considered Senate Bill 479 – which proposed to divest the state from its ownership interest in historically filled lands created before 1963 – the Department of State Lands proposed convening an advisory group to deliberate on and propose possible solutions to this issue. The legislature agreed to this approach.  

The purpose of the Filled Lands Advisory Group (FLAG) is to provide input into the process for settling historically filled land claims that is fair to upland owners and respects the value of these lands to the public. 

Members of the FLAG represent landowners, ports, fisheries, recreationists, education beneficiaries and the legislature, and will be advisory to the Department of State Lands. A facilitator obtained through the Oregon Consensus Program, will help lead the group’s work and allow DSL staff and legal counsel to participate. 

The FLAG will hold monthly meetings for up to six months. These meetings will be held in Portland and Salem, and are open to the public. Input from the FLAG will be considered by the Department as staff prepares reports and recommendations for the State Land Board and Oregon Legislature. Any recommendations requiring legislative action will be considered for the 2015 session.


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FLAG Membership

Chuck Bennet-Director of Government Relations
Confederation of Oregon School Administrators

Jim Green-Deputy Executive Director
Oregon School Boards Association

Chris Hathaway-Deputy Director
Lower Columbia Estuary Partnership

Dave Hunnicutt-President
Oregonions in Action

Senator Jeff Kruse
State of Oregon

Jay McCaulley-Owner
Marine Environmental & Development 

Paula Miranda-Deputy Executive Director
Port of St. Helens

Martha Pagel-Attorney
Schwabe, Williamson & Wyatt

Senator Floyd Prozanski
State of Oregon

Maddy Sheehan-Attorney
Sheehan & Sheehan LLC​

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FLAG Meeting Dates and Locations​













1/30/2014 ​











Location​ ​Portland State University Smith Memorial Student Union, Rm 327​​​ 775 Summer St NE
Land Board
775 Summer St. ​NE 
Land Board Conference Room
775 Summer St. ​NE 
Land Board Conference Room
775 Summer St. ​NE
Land Board Conference Room​
775 Summer St. ​NE
Land Board Conference Room​










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Meeting Materials and Minutes

October 30, 2013 Materials

December 13, 2013 Materials
December 13, 2013 Minutes

January 30, 2014 Materials
     Mar Com Map
January 30, 2014 Minutes

March 19, 2014 Materials
March 19, 2014 Minutes

April 30, 2014 Materials
April 30, 2014 Minutes

June 4, 2014 Materials

June 4, 2014 Minutes
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Contact Information

Department of State Lands
Chris Castelli
Senior Policy Analyst 

Kearns & West, Inc.
Debra Nudelman
Facilitation Team ​
503-221-1650, ext. 1305

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