Early in this session, Senator Alan Bates (D – Medford) introduced legislation to designate many of Oregon’s rivers and creeks as scenic waterways. The Oregon scenic waterways program restricts many activities within a quarter of a mile on either side of a river that has been defined as a “scenic waterway” regardless of the ownership of the land. Private land owners, industries that work within the waterway and any others that depend upon the resources of the river or creek could be adversely affected by these restrictions.
“This bill affects Josephine and Jackson counties more than any other counties in the state,” said Senator Herman Baertschiger, (R – Grants Pass). “It will regulate activities of private land owners. This a taking of property rights by government, in my opinion.”
Senate Bill 401 adds nearly 30 rivers, creeks and segments of rivers and creeks to the control of the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department’s scenic waterways program. This bill has a significant impact on Southern Oregon. Nearly 70% of the additional rivers are in Southern and South West Oregon. SB 401 adds 16 individual sections of rivers and creeks from Josephine and Jackson County alone. By restricting access and activities there can be serious adverse effects on Southern Oregon employers and private land owners.
“Defending the rights of property owners is an on-going battle in Salem,” said Senator Ted Ferrioli (R-John Day). “Senator Baertshiger is going to be a tenacious defender of property rights as this issue continues to be debated.”
Senator Baertschiger is continuing to work with his colleagues in the Senate to build opposition of this bill and others like it. He feels that constituents should know about bills such as these before they make it out of the committee process. He encourages the citizens of Oregon to voice their opinion to their respective legislators on this bill.
Baertschiger has served on several county boards and tasks forces. He and his wife have raised their two sons on a ranch west of Grants Pass. He is an avid hunter, fisherman and enjoys horseback riding and is a private pilot.