Special Session begins with big property grab bill

SB 1060, Navigability & Public Access to Private Property
Oregon Farm Bureau,

SB 1060 will be the largest private property grab of the special session.  The bill grants access to the public to beds and banks up to the high water mark on “floatable” water ways throughout Oregon.  Floatable is defined that the waterway has the capacity to enable a boat or other vessels to progress regardless of the presence of rapids, expose cobble or other objects that may impede passage.

Under this legislation, a landowner or operator of properties adjacent to waterways cannot restrict the public’s access to private property.  However, it does allow a process for state agencies that have management authority over properties to close them the public.

Additionally, the legislation allows the public to travel on private property above the high water in cases of emergency or to portage around barriers.  It also prohibits property owners from erecting a barrier within the high water mark areas; this would include livestock fencing.

This legislation not only gives away private property rights, but it also has no complimentary measures for increased enforcement along waterways to ensure the public is using the property correctly and respectfully, it provides no funding for facilities, trash clean-up, public access points or any other items that provide protections and balance for landowners.

Finally, the legislation protects farming rights adjacent to the waterway; however it does not allow farmers to protect their farming infrastructure with fences that would create barriers for the public along waterways even if it would be to protect the farmers’ property or for the public’s safety.  This would include fencing around irrigation equipment, ditches or sensitive habitat areas and fencing in the high water mark for livestock.

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