An official website of the State of Oregon
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Land that can get covered with water is called "submerged," or "submersible land." The rules for public use of the submerged and submersible land underlying state-owned waterways are simple.
You have the right to recreate on state-owned ("navigable") waterways including submerged and submersible lands. Recreational uses allowed include navigation, fishing, and commerce. The official document referencing the public's rights is The
Public Trust Doctrine.
This doctrine is not a green light to trespass on private land. Anyone crossing private land to get to state-owned public land and waterways must have permission from the landowner. The landowner is under no obligation to grant this permission.
In April 2005, the Oregon Attorney General issued an opinion addressing the public rights for navigable waterways and land where the question of ownership of the submerged and submersible lands has not been addressed.
When using Oregon´s waterways: •Always get the landowner's permission to cross private land to get to the waterway •Be sure to launch and take out your boat at public launches or parks •Avoid conflicts with landowners •If you see trash, pick it up and carry it out, but avoid trespass to do so •Obey laws and common rules of decency at all times
For a list of Oregon waterways that meet the federal test of state ownership of the underlying submerged and submersible land, visit the Department of State Lands, Waterways and Wetlands page.
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