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Navigability
Introduction
Sandy River  
Sandy River photo D. Jeff Kroft
The Department of State Lands, as the administrative arm of the State Land Board, manages the process to determine the "navigability" or public ownership of waterways in Oregon.
 
The people of Oregon are the owners of the submerged and submersible land underlying all navigable and tidally-influenced waters. In most cases, this ownership, which was granted by the federal government when Oregon became a state, extends to the line of ordinary high water or high tide. However, the federal government did not specify which rivers should be publicly-owned.
 
Over the ensuing years, portions of the beds and banks of 12 rivers have been determined to be publicly-owned through court cases, legislatively directed studies, acts of the Oregon Legislature and, since 1995, a study process established in Oregon law (ORS 274.400 to ORS 274.412) and the department’s rules governing this process (OAR 141-121-0000 through 141-121-0040). 
 
The links to the left provide further information on navigability and the history of public ownership of Oregon's waterways and lakes.  Email Chris Castelli​, Senior Policy Analyst, or call 503-986-5280, with questions.