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Funding for Projects that Enhance Waterways

Projects that enhance the beds and banks of Oregon's waterways often benefit water quality, surrounding wildlife, and waterway users. The Department of State Lands recognizes it takes a vision, along with funding and community support to accomplish these types of big initiatives.

In 2017, DSL worked with the state legislature to establish the Submerged Lands Enhancement Fund, which makes grants available for projects that enhance, improve, or protect the beds and banks of state-owned waterways. The fund is financed on a biennial basis by up to 20 percent of the revenue from DSL waterway authorizations.

Projects that may qualify for funding include those that remove and dispose of marine debris or vessels and structures in disrepair, projects that enhance watersheds and fish and wildlife habitat, and those that improve water quality.

New! 2021-23 SLEF Recipients

DSL is pleased to announce two SLEF grant recipients for the 2021-23 grant cycle.  
Recipients are:
  • The North Clackamas Watershed Council, which will receive $101,170 for a waterway enhancement project. 
  • The City of Umatilla, which will receive $56,352 to support removal of an abandoned and derelict vessel. 
Additionally, SLEF funds will support removal of an abandoned and derelict vessel in South Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve.

Past SLEF Recipients

DSL awarded three projects for the 2017-2019 Submerged Land Enhancement Fund grant cycle totaling $93,559. Each of the projects awarded were diverse in project scope, as well as areas in the state. Select a project to expand it and learn more about it.

Removing Debris from the Lower Columbia River
The Lower Columbia River Estuary Partnership

​The Lower Columbia River and Marine Debris Removal Project aimed to remove significant amounts of marine debris from approximately 70 miles of Oregon submerged and submersible land. The project would help improve water quality and habitat for fish and wildlife; remove safety hazards for boaters, fishers and other recreationalists; improve shoreline aesthetics; improve conditions and habitat on state owned lands and help implement aspects of the Oregon Marine Debris Action Plan​. ​

Boater surveys reported an abundance of small to medium size debris that was simply too large or inaccessible by land for removal by traditional beach clean ups. The SLEF money was used to hire the use of a tug, a 60’ x 24’ barge, two small skiffs, and large capacity drop boxes, along with staff to help operate the vessels. Due to the difficulty of removal and amount of debris, the team focused on roughly 19 miles of shoreline from the lower Columbia River and Multnomah Channel over the course of three days.​

The dedicated team removed 6,840 lbs of mixed garbage, 9,840 lbs of tires or the equivalent of 213 tires, 2,460 lbs. of metal, and a full 20-yard drop box full of Styrofoam.​​​

Tackling Invasive Aquatic Plants at Willamette Mission State Park
Willamette Riverkeeper
Funding was requested to assist with the removal of Ludwigia hexapetala from Willamette Mission State Park. The invasive flowering aquatic plant, known as waterprimrose, crowds out native species and can clog waterways—impacting water quality and fish habitat. The Willamette River Basin is Oregon’s largest watershed as it covers over 11,500 square miles and includes over 13 major tributaries. Tackling invasive species over such a large area required an extensive collaborative effort.​

Willamette Riverkeeper used herbicidal treatments over the course of two years to remove invasive waterprimrose from the 68-acre Mission Lake.

Redesigning Docks for Community Use in the City of Coquille
The City of Coquille

The City of Coquille experienced high river flows and storm events in 2015. The events tore away two sections of the City’s docks making them no longer usable due to safety concerns. The docks were highly prized by the local community for fishing and access to the Coquille River. The City requested SLEF money to help replace both structures and install steel pilings in place of existing creosote pilings. The funds would also be used to help revegetate the area disturbed by the project with native plantings.​​


The overall project was assisted through funding received by many partners, including Oregon State Marine Board, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, and the Port of Bandon.
The new docks were re-designed for both boaters and anglers in mind, which included structural and functional changes. The project replaced a boarding dock and piles for safe launching and boat retrieval, as well as a transient dock and piles to restore river access at Sturdivant Park.
The new design reduced river pressure on the docks and stabilized them. It also moved the gangplank so it would lift with flood waters, reducing the need for it to be removed and replaced over the winter season. ​


Blake Helm, Proprietary Specialist