Waterway Markers are devices, such as buoys or signs, designed to be placed in, or near water to convey an official message to a boat operator. “Regulatory markers” alert boat operators to restrictions set in law including, but not limited to, boat exclusion areas and motor, horsepower, speed, or wake restrictions. “Information markers” convey information to boat operators other than regulatory matters, such as warnings of dangers or obstructions to navigation or other information of an official nature which will contribute to the health, safety, and well-being of boaters.
A political subdivision or person must not mark the waters of this state in any manner in conflict with the markings prescribed by the Marine Board. ORS 830.110(13)
Waterway markers may be owned and managed in several different ways:
- Aids to navigation on federally navigable waterways are managed by the US Coast Guard. Impoundment managed by a federal agency (US Army Corps of Engineers, US Forest Service, Bureau of Reclamation) may be marked by those agencies.
- The Marine Board purchases buoys and signs to mark many of the regulatory areas established in state law (such as slow-no wake zones, 10 mph limit, motors prohibited). These markers are placed and maintained by the county marine patrol programs under contract with the Marine Board. The county marine patrol programs also place hazard markers as needed.
- Additional markers, such as slow-no wake signs and buoys around public boat launch ramps, are provided by the Marine Board as part of boating facility grants and are the responsibility of the facility manager to maintain.
- If the Marine Board establishes a special local regulation in rule, the governing body (or individual) that requested the rule is responsible for establishing and maintaining the markers as prescribed by the Marine Board. ORS 830.175(2)
- Local governments, other state agencies, and individuals can own, place, and maintain their own regulatory or information markers as prescribed by the Marine Board. See "apply for a waterway marker" below.
Regulatory markers established before July 1, 2015, including markers deployed year-round and markers deployed seasonally, when supported by statute or rule, are exempt from the permit requirements of OAR 250-010-0215 to 250-010-0235 until the equipment is replaced. Existing regulatory markers that are not supported by statute or rule or that are an unreasonable hazard to navigation are subject to the removal provisions of OAR 250-010-0235(4).
For markers established after July 1, 2015: political subdivisions and individuals can apply for permission to place regulatory and information markers in areas not marked by the Marine Board. Regulatory markers can only be placed in areas where regulations are already established. Informational markers can be used to convey information to boat operators that is not an enforceable law such as "marina ahead," "fuel dock," or "caution -swimmers."
A Marine Board waterway marker permit does not relieve the applicant from obtaining other federal, state or local permits, licenses, or approval which may be required.
Waterway markers placed on the waters of the state after July 1, 2015, must conform to the following standards.
Colors and Shapes
Regulatory markers shall contain the symbols and messages as follows:
- A diamond shape of international orange with a cross of the same color within it against a white center shall be used to indicate a water zone where vessels may not enter. Any words or well-known abbreviations must be in black letters above and/or below the shape on a white background. Common messages include Exclusion Zone, No Entry, Swim Area, and No Boats.
- A circle of international orange with white center shall be used to indicate water zone within which control or restriction is imposed upon operation of vessels and/or use of the zoned area. The nature of the control shall be indicated by words, numerals, or well-known abbreviations in black letters inside the circular shape, or above and/or below it. Common messages include Slow No Wake, speed restrictions, and motor type restrictions.
- A diamond shape of international orange with white center shall be used to indicate danger from natural or man-made hazards. The nature of the hazard may be indicated by words or well-known abbreviations in black letters inside the diamond shape, or above and/or below it on white background. Common messages include Danger, Rocks, and Low Water.
- A rectangular shape of international orange with white center may be used to convey other information of an official nature which will contribute to the health, safety, and well-being of boaters using the state's waters. The message will be presented within the shape in black letters. Common messages include Marina Entrance, Wildlife Refuge, services, and other general information.
Buoys must be white with bands of international orange placed completely around the buoy circumference. One band shall be at the top of the buoy body, with a second band placed just above the waterline of the buoy so that both orange bands are clearly visible to approaching vessels. The display area of the buoy body between the two bands shall be white. The symbols and messages described above must be placed in the display area.
- Must be a commercially available design approved by the Marine Board;
- Must be self-righting;
- Must have a durable hard plastic shell;
- Must have internal foam floatation and a ballast system.
Calm water buoys must conform to the following minimum dimensions:
- The minimum height above the waterline must be 34inches;
- The minimum diameter must be 8 inches.
Fast water buoys must conform to the following minimum dimensions:
- The minimum height above the waterline must be 36 inches;
- The minimum can diameter must be 10 inches;
- The minimum float collar base diameter must be 21 inches
Examples: CAL 427 River Buoy, Rolyan B1428 SW, Taylor Made Sur-Mark Regulatory Buoy 97897
Signs must be rectangular in shape with a white background and have the symbols and messages described above placed in the center of the display area. Signs shall be made of materials which will retain, despite the weather and other exposure, the characteristics essential to their basic significance, such as color, shape, legibility, and position. Acceptable materials include:
- 0.080” aluminum;
- Fluted twin-wall corrugated plastic sheet; or
- Other materials as approved by request to the Marine Board.
The size of a display area shall be as required by circumstances, except no display area shall be smaller than 24 inches in height by 18 inches in width.