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Oregon Div. of State Lands v. Riverfront Protection Ass'n

Citation: 12 ELR 20728
No. No. 81-3035, 672 F.2d 792/(9th Cir., 03/26/1982)

The Ninth Circuit rules that since a portion of the McKenzie River in Oregon was navigable when Oregon was admitted to the Union, the state has title to the riverbed. The court notes that a river is navigable under federal law if in its natural condition it is used or susceptible of use for commercial trade or travel. At the time Oregon was admitted to the Union, the river had been used over a period of 17 years, although not without some difficulty, to transport logs. In addition, while crude dams were built, the court rules that the river was navigable in its ordinary, unimproved condition since such artificial aids did not improve the river. The court remands the case to the district court to determine how Oregon law affects a riparian owner's title to the riverbed.

Counsel for Appellant
Dave Frohnmayer, Attorney General; Frank Ostrander
100 State Office Bldg., Salem OR 97310
(503) 378-4402

Counsel for Appellees
Donald J. Morgan
Wood & Tatum
1100 SW 6th Ave., Suite 1505, Portlant OR 97204
(503) 224-5430

Counsel for Amicus Curiae
Richard M. Frank, Ass't Attorney General
555 Capitol Mall, Suite 305, Sacramento CA 95814
(906) 445-8411

Before SNEED, ANDERSON, and REINHARDT, Circuit Judges.