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AboutOregon-Owned Waterways

Numerous lakes, river segments, and miles of territorial sea and tidally influenced bays and estuaries throughout Oregon belong to the people of the state. These waters are considered a public resource all may use for navigation, recreation, commerce, fishing, and other legal activities.
The Department of State Lands oversees Oregon-owned waterways, managing leases, easements, dock registrations, and other paid uses of riverbeds and riverbanks. DSL oversight ensures public waterways are open for the use and enjoyment of all.

What makes a waterway Oregon-owned?

The public owns sections of certain rivers, lakes, and other bodies of water that were acquired by Oregon upon statehood. These waterways have been declared title-navigable through legislative, judicial, or administrative proceedings, based on whether the waterways could have been used for trade and travel at the time of statehood. Some of the waterways, like the Columbia River, are also Oregon-owned because they are influenced by the ebb and flow of the tide.

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