A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

Next year, state to charge for waterway access

Written September 12th, 2019 by Hasso Hering

The Takena Landing dock in Albany this morning: The rising river has nearly covered the gravel bar that will be removed shortly.

Starting in August 2020, Oregon will start charging a permit fee to get out on the water in motorless boats of 10 feet or longer, such as canoes and drift boats.

The legislature this year passed Senate Bill 47, which provides for a “waterway access permit” and says: “A person 14 years of age or older shall carry a waterway access permit while operating a nonmotorized boat that is at least 10 feet in length or a sailboat that is at least 10 feet but less than 12 feet in length… The person shall present proof of a permit upon request by a peace officer.”

For several years now, the state has required boaters to have an “invasive species permit” to raise money for a program to prevent certain animal and plant species from invading Oregon waters. SB 47 repeals the species permit, which generally costs $7 a year, and substitutes the waterway access permit, which will cost $5 for one week, or $17 a year, or $30 for two years.

The bill takes effect in October, but the access permit won’t be required until Aug. 1, 2020. The extra time is intended to allow the Oregon Marine Board to adopt rules.

I didn’t know about the access permit until reading a newsletter from Sen. Floyd Prozanski, D-Eugene, this week.

The bill says the permit fees will go into a Marine Board fund to pay for improving access points to waterways such as ramps and related facilities.

Owners of motorized boats and sailboats bigger than 12 feet already pay a biennial registration fee. They are not affected by the new access permit fee.

Reading the bill reminded me of the “water access” at Albany’s Takena Landing. The city has contracted with R.L. Reimers Construction to excavate a gravel bar there, which has made the boat ramp hard to use this summer. As of this morning the work had not yet started, but the Willamette River had risen enough to almost cover the bar.

Once the bar is gone, there’s no way of telling whether it will reappear during the winter and spring. Boaters will hope that by the time they pay the new state access fee, the access at Takena will actually be clear. (hh)

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10 responses to “Next year, state to charge for waterway access”

  1. J. Jacobson says:

    By the tone of this publication, it seems the author is attempting to conflate his bicycle-centric ethos with the small, non-powered boating community.

    The author’s point? Non-motorized vehicles do not use resources and thus, should Not be burdened by licenses, fees and the rest of the regulatory maze the motorized must manage.

    The myth relies on the non-impact of non-powered boats or pedal-powered bikes. Yet the massive pick-up truck hauling the non-motorized boat to the Landing cannot be ignored. The parking lots for the pick-up truck cannot be discounted. Bicyclists requiring additional roadway to assert their “right” falls into the same category.

    Sorry, but if you use the boat launch, you ought to pay for it. That’s the old Republican mantra.

  2. Rich Kellum says:

    Unconstitutional on its face. It is not a user fee, it is a tax. a user fee would charge everyone who launches a boat a fee. So if you charge 10 ft boats but not 8 ft boats when both use the facility the same way and you can not show that there is a difference in cost to the system between the two boats, then the 10 ft boat owner is subsidizing the 9 ft boat. So it is not a fee but a tax… that the legislature has to have a supermajority to pass or send it to the people to vote on..

  3. Jim Engel says:

    A bit odd that Kellum would call the fee a tax! So why is the Storm Water fee on my Albany utilities bill a “fee” and not a “tax”?? WE the People didn’t get to vote on it!!

    • Ray Kopczynski says:

      “WE the people” did get to vote on it by the power given to our elected officials. I may vehemently disagree with some of the outcomes (and I do), but thankfully we live in a representative government and not a pure democracy.

    • Rich Kellum says:

      Because Mr Engle, everyone gets the benefits but not everyone does the paying, some subsidize others, all the people who get the benefits pay a stormwater fee..

      • Becky Swanson says:

        I am curious about your response to Mr Engle regarding all the people who get the benefits pay a storm water fee. What are the benefits? Where I live there are NO storm drains. The water just goes back in the ground. Please clarify the benefits.

        • Rich Kellum says:

          the storm system drains ALL of the streets eventually whether or not your house drains into a pipe, a ditch or sinks in the ground, the street you use eventually drains into a pipe. that is the benefit to all. while I may not agree on charging the way is it done, the majority of the council did and that is what I am left with.

  4. Kenneth Donaldson says:

    I’m about ready to say screw it and pay a fine if I’m found doing something “illegal.” I hate boating on the Willamette, because the Sheriff is a pest. For example, I’m sitting in my Kayak with a life jacket on and a whistle around my neck. Sheriff want’s to ask me a few questions and I tell him that I’m entirely legal, haven’t been drinking and am trying to enjoy the day, so please leave me alone. He insists that I answer survey questions, and explains that the more surveys they conduct, the more money they get from God knows where. Every damn thing I do requires permission in the form of license or a fee, and I’m tired of it. My water bill in Corvallis looks like a tax statement. All these things used to be paid for with tax dollars, today it’s ransom.

  5. Keith says:

    Here we go again…just like paying to use trails in the Cascades now you have to pay to canoe. Bottom line: if you are poor, move somewhere else. We don’t want your kind here.

    • NancyM. says:

      Suggest everyone who can prove they are Native Oregonians should not have to pay
      a Fee or Tax to boat, hike, canoe, swim, walk , camp or breathe in this State The rest of
      you jokers who never vote or attend City Council Meetings and complain incessantly about
      everything, have at it!


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