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Use of State-Owned Land

The Department of State Lands manages approximately 780,000 acres of land, primarily in southeastern Oregon. Isolated parcels are located in most counties throughout the state. These lands are managed for the people of the state to generate money for K-12 schools. All funds generated for uses of these properties are deposited into the Common School Fund.

Recreation on state-owned land: With few exceptions, all state-owned land is open for recreational uses. This includes upland properties as well as submerged and submersible lands. For additional information relating to use of state-owned waterways, please see Use of State-Owned Waterways. Recreational uses are considered limited-duration activities of 30 days or less and include:

  • Hunting
  • Fishing
  • Swimming
  • Hiking
  • Dispersed camping 
  • Sightseeing/photography 

It’s important to note that land owned and managed by DSL is unimproved: no developed campsites, trails or restroom facilities. Other considerations include:

  • Always get the landowner’s permission if you need to cross private land
  • If you see trash, pick it up and carry it out
  • Obey all Oregon laws and common rules of decency at all times

Restrictions: To better protect natural and cultural resources on state-owned land, DSL may restrict usage on state properties, which include upland parcels, beaches, estuaries, and the beds and banks of state-owned waterways.

The reasons for restrictions are varied. Illegal and nuisance activities such as excessive littering, reckless burning, drug and alcohol use, and property damage are often the reasons for restrictions. Other times, protection of wildlife habitat is the primary driver for restrictions.

All restrictions are established through the administrative rule process and are contained in OAR 141-088. People interested in using state-owned land should become familiar with any closures or restrictions, which can include no overnight camping, no open fires, and restricted motor vehicle use.

The Real Estate Asset Management Plan establishes goals, priorities and management direction for management and allowable uses on all DSL properties. Allowable uses include public recreation, livestock grazing, mineral extraction, energy resources, timber harvest, agricultural development and commercial property management. DSL also manages roughly 770,000 acres of subsurface and mineral estates.

Special Stewardship Lands are also part of the Department’s portfolio. Over 11,000 acres have been set aside for protection of scenic, natural resource, cultural, educational and recreational values

Land authorizations

The Department offers short- and long-term authorizations for a wide variety of uses on state-owned land. All real property transactions are handled out of the agency’s Eastern Region Office in Bend.

​These are required for long-term or permanent structures of uses placed on state-owned land. Types of uses include roadways, telephone, gas, cable and electric utility line crossings, water supply pipelines, ditches, sewer outfalls, railroads and storage of material. These require a one-time compensation to the Department at the time of issuance of the easement.

​All state-owned lands and mineral rights under the Department’s jurisdiction are available for prospecting, with few exceptions. Please contact the Eastern Region Office if you are interested in:

  • exploring for mineral deposits.
  • collecting mineral samples, including petrified wood and semi-precious stones.
  • developing and mining mineral deposits.

​The Department offers lease and licenses for a wide variety of uses of state-owned land not authorized by other agency rules. A special use authorization allows a person to use a specific area of state-owned land under specific terms and conditions for a specific length of time. Such uses may include:

  • agriculture 
  • communication facilities
  • industrial/residential and commercial purposes
  • firewood cutting
  • recreational cabins 
  • motion picture filming and set construction
  • renewable energy
  • scientific experiments and
  • sporting events

These types of uses generally require an annual rent or royalty payment.​​

​Used for short-term uses with little to no impact on state-owned lands​.​


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