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Petitioner seeks to have Deschutes River classified as navigable waterway

Seeks to gather 200 signatures: 'I just hope to make the confusion go away'

BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- Josh Pardee, an angler from Bend, has been fishing in Central Oregon for a long time.

He, like many other anglers, wants to see the state classify the Deschutes river as a navigable waterway.

"I believe that the Deschutes River has by definition been navigable for years," Pardee said Tuesday.

He's even put together a petition that's quickly gaining traction. As of Tuesday afternoon, it passed over half the 200 signatures he's seeking.

Pardee said he also wants the Oregon Department of State Lands to take a look at classifying other rivers as navigable.

If the river was to be deemed navigable, anglers and other water users would have more rights on the river, even when it runs through private property.

In fact, according to the Department of State Lands, if the river was classified as navigable: "You may pull your canoe or kayak up on the land below the line of ordinary high water for a short period of time. Similarly, below the line of ordinary high water, you may picnic, walk, fish, play or sunbathe on the land."

Pardee explained why he thinks that's important, noting the sentiment of some people who own homes along the river.

"Sometimes, there's this connection that's like, 'This is my chunk of river.' And it's like, it is and it isn't -- the river belongs to all of us."

He said he wants to see action on more than just the river at hand

"Because I'm sure not just on the Deschutes, I'm sure other rivers statewide, there's issues all abroad the same," he said.

The Department Of State Lands also told NewsChannel 21: "The public can still use and enjoy waterways where a navigability determination has not occurred, unless the waterway isn't big enough for a kayak, canoe, or other watercraft to pass through."

"The public can also use the riverbank below the high water line for swimming, fishing, and other water-dependent uses," DSL added.

However, according to Pardee, from a fisherman's standpoint, "Really it's just such a gray area, by law, the way they've deemed the Deschutes River. And it's created a lot of confusion, and I just hope to make the confusion go away."

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Blake Allen

Blake Allen is a multimedia journalist for NewsChannel 21. Learn more about Blake here.


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