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Brian - very good post. Interesting that you compare the public's right to use the river with our landmark Beach Bill. I'll bet you didn't know that Oregonians have had the right to use navigable waterways much longer than our beaches. In fact, the federal law that granted Oregon statehood in 1859 declared all navigable waterways as state owned and to be held in public trust.

Section 2. Jurisdiction over waters forming boundary of state; use of navigable waters as free highways. That the said State of Oregon shall have concurrent jurisdiction on the Columbia and all other rivers and waters bordering on the said State of Oregon, so far as the same shall form a common boundary to said State, and any other State or States now or hereafter to be formed or bounded by the same; and said rivers and waters, and all the navigable waters of said State, shall be common highways and forever free, as well as to the inhabitants of said State as to all other citizens of the United States, without any tax, duty, impost, or toll therefor. [11 Stat. 383 (1859)]

(That covers the bed and banks to the mean high water mark.)

A bit off topic from requiring more landscaping and additional review by the city, but it does tie in. The more the public is around the river, the more they care about what is happening to it. The industrial property owners might own the land next to the Willamette, but we all own the river as Oregonians. We should definitely have a say as to what happens to our resource.


great comments, jfwells. Thanks for sharing the truth.

Jesse Pender

Great post and comments. Thanks.

Ric Vrana

Generally in agreement and most of what's been done in recent years is a big improvement. Business is also a bit skittish right now about the EPA's long-delayed harbor superfund efforts and what it's going to mean to their operations as well as how they will be assessed.

There's one other thing that caught my eye in this article. "But the city still has a long way to go towards the ultimate goal of making the entire riverbank a continuous public path. And that is clearly the future"

Who says that's the ultimate goal.
Does a better balance of private and public access and ecological vs industrial concerns necessarily assume that the entire waterfront will be open to the public? Why? What does that really mean? Does that make a better city?

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