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Funding for Projects that Enhance Waterways

Water surrounded by trees with bridge crossing over the waterway.Projects that enhance the beds and banks of Oregon-owned waterways often benefit water quality, surrounding wildlife, and waterway users. The Department of State Lands recognizes it takes a vision, 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 Oregon-owned waterways. The fund is financed on a biennial basis by up to 20 percent of the revenue from DSL waterway authorizations.

Apply for a Grant in 2024

The Submerged Lands Enhancement Fund grant cycle for the 2023-25 biennium, with a total of $200,000 in grant money available, is open for applications from March 4 to May 31, 2024. Download the grant application (PDF) here.

What projects qualify?

DSL is prioritizing projects that restore, enhance and protect state-owned submerged and submersible lands. Projects that may qualify for funding include those that:
  • remove and dispose of marine debris or vessels and structures in disrepair, 
  • enhance watersheds and habitat, and 
  • improve water quality.

Visit the Department's lists and map of Oregon-owned Waterways to see if your project qualifies.

Who can apply?
State agencies, city or county governments, federally recognized Tribes, water improvement districts, watershed councils, park and recreation districts, ports, and non-profit organizations. Federal agencies are not eligible to receive funds from the SLEF. (ORS 141-082-0312)

Is match funding required?
A 25% funding match is required for all projects not initiated by DSL (in-kind or cash). Projects associated with compensatory mitigation requirements are not eligible for funding.

How are applications evaluated?
DSL forms an application review team (ORS 141-082-0313) to evaluate and prioritize eligible projects.The review team may include, but are not limited to, DSL, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, Oregon Department of Environmental Quality, Oregon State Marine Board, and non-profit organizations. Reviewers will provide the DSL Director recommendations regarding projects based on the following criteria:

  • Significance of benefit to Oregon-owned lands;
  • Protection or enhancement of Public Trust Values;
  • Capacity of applicant to perform work;
  • Likelihood of project success;
  • Ability to meet match obligation

Information Sessions
Unclear whether a project is located on Oregon-owned submerged and submersible lands? Not sure if the project would qualify? It’s recommended that potential applicants join one of the following virtual sessions to determine if this grant is a good fit prior to applying. After a brief overview of the grant program and application requirements, we’ll open it up for questions.

Past Grant Recipients

DSL has awarded grants to five projects since the fund was established in 2017. Each of the projects awarded were diverse in project scope, as well as areas in the state:

  • 2021 - 2023: Two projects totaling $157,522
  • 2017 - 2019: Three projects totaling $93,559

(2021-23) Removing a derelict vessel from the Umatilla Marina
City of Umatilla
On January 5, 2022 a 32-foot Carver vessel located at slip​ H-4 of the Umatilla marina sank. Due to the emergency nature of the event and out of concerns for the potential negative environmental impacts, within days the City promptly contracted with Tidewater Environmental Services for vessel recovery and environmental cleanup. Due to the unplanned nature of the event, this removal was not budgeted for and the City sought fiscal support for the cleanup and removal expenses. ​
The project site is located in the SHPO 35-UM-1 site and has known cultural resources. There are also endangered species in the Columbia River (salmon). It was imperative to perform the cleanup and removal promptly. The scope of work was environmental cleanup and vessel recovery including mobilizing technicians, deploying containment boom/absorbants, assessing the sunken vessel for recovery and removing the sunken vessel from the water. ​

(2021-23) Habitat restoration for juvenile salmon along the Willamette River and Boardman Creek
North Clacakmas Watersheds Council
Part of a larger initiative, this project will improve threatened salmon and steelhead and lamprey habitat in the state-owned lands of the Willamette River below ordinary high water at the confluence of the Willamette River and Boardman Creek. Much of the historic high-quality habitat is now lost to development along the shoreline and tributary streams. The proposed project will create two large habitat structures where juvenile salmon can escape high-velocity flows to rest and feed. ​

(2017-19) 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.

(2017-19) 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.​​​​

(2017-19) Redesigning docks for the community 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


  SLEF Grant Application