Upper Willamette Bill at Risk of Passing into Law

On Tuesday, June 15th the Senate Rules Committee voted in favor of unnecessary legislation (SB 857) that will ban hundreds of families from skiing, tubing, surfing and more on the Upper Willamette River. The bill is unfortunately one step closer to becoming law. It’s imperative we get ahead of the opposition’s momentum and make our voice heard with House legislators who will have the final vote before this bill becomes a reality.

We appreciate the boating community’s tireless support writing emails, attending hearings and making phone calls.
There is less than a week left in the legislative session, and we must show our representatives that the community does not support SB 857. Those who attended public hearings or submitted written testimony should also email today.

Use the sample email below to voice your concerns about these overreaching regulations. In addition, boaters are encouraged to add their own story to make even more impact with legislators. We know you share our passion for safe and open waterways. We need your continued support to stop this legislation in its tracks today!

Sample Email

Subject: Oppose SB 857

Dear Representative [insert name]:

I am writing you to oppose SB 857. This legislation is not representative of the community at large.

[insert your personal boating story and how these bills will impact your family or business]

Our waterway policies should be grounded in solid research and favor the general public, not select waterfront homeowners and paddlers looking to restrict towed water sports for their own personal gain. Real studies should be conducted to determine the best ways to keep the river safe and healthy. Local government agencies, hydrologists, geotechnical and civil engineers, ecologists and arborists all agree the lack of native vegetation and mismanagement of native trees is causing the majority of the erosion on the river, not towed water sports. Furthermore, the Newberg Pool is already one of the most regulated bodies of water in Oregon, and wake surfing is only allowed in two small zones with no adjacent homes.

This bill will make our waterways less safe and devastate families and small businesses in Aurora, Canby, Newberg, West Linn, Wilsonville and more. This is a duplicate bill that was already extensively debated and did not move forward. Please do not waste time on this unnecessary legislation. Oregon needs our representatives focused on COVID, economic recovery and getting our kids back in school. Thank you for your consideration.


[Your name]

To: (Please send individual emails to each of the following representatives)

The Bills

SB 857: Bans wake surfing and wakeboarding and limits boats authorized for all other towed watersports in the Newberg Pool to less than 5,000 pounds. Furthermore, a recent amendment extends the Newberg Pool from 20 to 30-miles of the Willamette River from Oregon City to Newberg.

Note: SB 857 is a duplicate of HB 2725 and HB 2555, which did not move forward this session.

SB 856: Expands to Oregon State Marine Board membership from five to nine members.

Note: SB 856 is a duplicate of HB 2695, which did not move forward this session.

Top Reasons to Oppose

Goes Too Far

These bills would strip safe, socially distant outdoor opportunities for hundreds of families along the Willamette River, including yours. Parents would no longer be able to pull their kids on a tube with affordable, multi-purpose boats over 5,000 pounds.

Kicks Families off the River

This section of the river is already highly regulated to towed sports with wake surfing only allowed in two areas where there are no docks or homes.

Creates Safety Issues

This will only add to the safety issues on the river. Banning wake boats from the Upper Willamette not only destroys boating opportunities for Oregonians, but it will add to congestion and safety issues in other bodies of water.

Lacks a Plan to Enforce

The vast majority of boaters like yourself are safe and responsible. We should focus on increased education and enforcement of the existing rules.

Not Based in Science

There is no empirical evidence that directly links erosion on the banks of the river or damage to docks to wake boats. Not only that, but wake sports are already prohibited in sections of the Upper Willamette with adjacent homes.

Decimates Small Business

These bills will decimate small businesses that depend on the river. Recreational boating brings $1.6 billion in annual economic impact to Oregon and supports almost 6,000 jobs and more than 400 businesses, including marinas, gas stations, mechanics, restaurants, dealers and more. This year, we need to be squarely focused on bolstering small business recovery and fueling our local economy.

Serves Special Interests

The Marine Board's proposed expansion is purposely designed by special interest groups to serve their agenda. It is a deliberate attempt to politicize the board and pave the way for even more drastic regulations that don't benefit the broader boating community.

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