Oregonians enjoy a robust recreational boating life. The Willamette River is seen as one of Oregon’s crown jewels for boating. Mile upon mile of river has been available to all residents of the state…until recently.

Most of the lakes in Oregon, if not all, are public. Public waters within the state are seen as sovereign waters of that state and by definition, belong to all the citizens of the state of Oregon.  Unfortunately, a very vocal group of riverfront property owners are threatening your right to enjoy these public waters.


What’s happening on Oregon’s waterways?

Willamette River

  • Local environmental and paddling groups on the Willamette River have said publicly that towed water sports were too dangerous for the river and Towed-sports boats are both causing accelerated erosion along the riverbanks and that they are negatively affecting endangered species of fish in the River.   These groups have stated that further restrictions on boating are needed.
  • Those in charge of safety on the Willamette River, the fire department and marine patrol, did not agree with these statements and in fact testified against such restrictions.
  • Oregon has gone so far as to attempt to pass a bill in the State Legislature that would ban ALL towed water sports with any boat that weighed more than 5,000 lbs on a large section of the Willamette River.  Fortunately that bill was defeated in the 2021 session. 
  • We continue to see strong resistance against wakesurfing and ballasted boats on Oregon waterways and are working together to preserve access to these rivers and lakes.

We need your help!

Local support and action is critical to preserving access to these waterways. The residents and neighbors in the area, who know and love these lakes and rivers, are our best advocates for preventing unnecessary and damaging regulations. 

Often these new restrictions and bans are coordinated behind the scenes, preventing adequate discussion or presentation of data, putting us at a disadvantage. So the need for robust local support when we are made aware of these proposals is key to defending and protecting our waterways.

How to get involved

There are many ways to participate and help our cause. First, reach out to your local Families for Boating representative for the latest information on current initiatives. 

Attendance at various local gatherings and county commissioner meetings is important for showing support for boating and towed water sports, as well as keeping informed on the status of new regulations and restrictions. 

Finally, and most importantly — Getting the word out! Tell your friends, family and neighbors about these proposals and encourage them to participate more so the local elected officials understand the impact of these initiatives.

We have many documents and instructions in our Resources section that can help get your local group organized and ready to speak up.


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