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The 3/1 hearing on HB 2320, Non-motorized registration 
As previously mentioned, the legislature held a hearing, March 1, on the Marine Board’s proposal to license all boats used on Oregon waters. A variety of speakers addressed the inequities of this blunderbuss approach taken by the board. Most important, in my view, was testimony brought forward regarding the Oregon Admission Act. The act states, “… all the navigable waters of said State, shall be common highways and forever free, as well as to the inhabitants of said State as to all other citizens of the United States, without any tax, duty, impost, or toll therefor. [11 Stat. 383 (1859)]”

I had expressed concerns, during the board’s process in developing the proposed legislation, in regard to this stipulation on Oregon’s waters, and basically got blown off. The Transportation Committee seemed less disposed to disregard the admission act than the agency had proven to be.

Perhaps the best summation of the other testimony would be to say that it pointed out how the board’s proposal was a one-size-fits-all solution to a complex and nuanced issue. The agency’s proposals call for all non-motorized boaters to pay for facilities and services that would be utilized by only a subset. For the agency, it’s a convenient head tax on boaters; for boaters it is in inequitable redistribution of funds to the board’s favored projects.

To keep track of HB 2320’s progress, you can go here: https://olis.leg.state.or.us/liz/2017R1/Measures/Overview/HB2320

Minto Bridge Progresses, Slowly 
Advances continue toward the delayed opening of the pedestrian bridge, across Salem’s Willamette Slough, linking Riverfront Park to Minto-Brown Park. On tap for the nearish future is a limited, soft opening. Work to remove temporary construction structures will not take place until June, and the bridge is expected to close again for that. A full opening is now slated for August. Maybe. The Statesman has the details:  http://www.statesmanjournal.com/story/news/2017/02/23/countdown-soft-opening-salem-pedestrian-bridge/98263806/

Oregon’s Illinois River – A Whitewater Jewel 
Zach Urness at the Statesman did an article on one of Oregon’s most esteemed whitewater rivers, the Illinois, a tributary of the Rogue: http://www.statesmanjournal.com/story/travel/outdoors/2017/02/15/illinois-river-rafting-green-wall-oregon-rogue-kayaking/97949480/