Be aware of SB 401
McKenzie Bridge, Rainbow, Blue River & Finn Rock property owner alert
from the McKenzie ClearWater Coalition
The Senate Committee on Environment and Natural Resources will hold a public hearing in Salem at 3 PM Monday, April 15. SB 401 is on the agenda hearing agenda. The McKenzie ClearWater Coalition (MCWC) Confluence Team has been tracking this legislation because of its potential for significant impact on McKenzie residents. I urge residents to understand the impact of this legislation and provide input to the senate committee and our senator, Floyd Prozanski.
SB 401 modifies the scenic waterway statute 309.805 390.925 to extend the scenic waterway designation for the main stem of the McKenzie through Blue River. Currently, the South Fork from the Three Sisters Wilderness Area to the confluence with the main stem and the main stem from Clear Lake to Paradise Campground (excluding carve outs for the reservoirs) are designated scenic waterways. The area designated currently traverses public lands. The extended area will subject a significant number of private landowners to the scenic waterway regulations.
The scenic waterways statute authorizes the Oregon Department of Parks and Recreation to define policy for scenic waterways consistent with the established goals. The department has done so through regulations that have been summarized in a guide for homeowners in designated areas. Links to SB 401 and the homeowner’s guide can be found through the MCWC website http://mckenzieclearwatercoalition.com/ . The following summary explains some of the uncertainty associated with the legislation that causes this call for your input.
- The restricted area extends 1/4 mile from the river which is a much wider distance than the 200’ riparian proposal that brought the MCWC together in the first place. Land that does not border the river may be impacted by the regulations. Even land on the opposite side of the highway from the river may be included in the mile boundary.
- The Department of Parks and Recreation has established regulations for scenic waterways that define 5 categories with each category subject to different restrictions. Nothing in the statute indicates how those categories will be applied to the designated waterways. Thus, landowners have no way of knowing what restrictions they will be subject to if the legislation is passed.
- Lane County has been advised by legal counsel that property that has historically been sold, purchased and valued as “buildable” must be permitted even if structures do not conform to all county ordinances. The scenic waterways statute does allow construction already permitted to be completed, but may restrict future construction within the mile boundary. It may include restrictions for fences, signs and additions as well as new structures. It is unclear how conflicts between the Department of Parks and Recreation regulations and county ordinances would be resolved.
- The statute gives the Department of Parks and Recreation the power of condemnation in the event its regulations are violated.
- SB 401 has been designated as emergency legislation so impact may be realized as soon as it is enacted.
Please add your voice to that of the MCWC and your neighbors by providing input for this hearing. The meeting notice indicates that a large volume of public input is expected so testimony will be limited by those present to 3 minutes. The notice also suggests that written comment be submitted to the committee electronically to firstname.lastname@example.org or by mail to the committee at 900 Court Street NE, Room 347, Salem, OR 97301. Senator Prozanski’s e-mail is email@example.com://firstname.lastname@example.org
Marilyn Cross, Chairperson
McKenzie ClearWater Coalition
McKenzie River Reflections