SB 401 and SB 388 Will Infringe Upon Your Property Rights

Oregon Senate Bill 401, introduced by Senator Alan Bates (D-Ashland) seeks to greatly expand Oregon's Scenic Waterways as an under-handed way of attacking gold miners in Oregon. But, it's not just the miners who will be adversely impacted by SB 401. YOUR property may also be adversely effected.

SB 401 will add hundreds of miles of streams and rivers into State Scenic Designation, including large portions of the Rogue, Applegate, Illinois and Umpqua Rivers, as well as Sucker Creek, Grave Creek, Cow Creek and about ten other creeks. Included in the bill is a provision (already part of ORS Chapter 390) that establishes a "scenic easement" for 1/4 of a mile on both sides. This scenic "easement" is placed under the control of the Oregon Department of State Lands and the Oregon State Parks Department and will give the State of Oregon regulatory authority on ANY property inside of that easement under the guise of "preserving" so called "scenic qualities" for the sake of the general public. ANY activity on the properties included inside the easement will become subject to heavy use regulation, especially in relation to visual changes made to the property, including (but not limited to) construction of new residences, expansions or modifications made to homes or outbuildings, removal of trees. Any existing home or outbuilding that is considered to not enhance scenic values "for the public" will be required to be screened from view or will be simply removed. Something so simple as changing the color of your home may be expressly forbidden if SB 401 becomes State Law.

Don't believe it?

In 1970, shortly after the passage of the Oregon Scenic Waterway Act, a Grants Pass woman named Helen Scott was forced to sue the State of Oregon. Scott owned eight acres adjacent to the Rogue River which she had purchased in the 1960's for the purpose of subdividing and developing. She tried to work with the State of Oregon and submitted a development plan for the property which she believed was more than reasonable. Her plan was to subdivide the property in half and build two houses on the river. These were to be high end homes suitable for summer recreational use on the river. The two houses would be painted gloss white. Helen Scott's plan was not good enough for the State of Oregon and in particular, the state protested about the homes being painted white because they would not blend in with the scenery on the river. Scott was forbidden from developing her property and subsequently took the State of Oregon to court, asking for $25,000 in damages as she believed that the State of Oregon had committed a takings of her property for public purposes. Scott spent the next five years in court, losing in both Circuit Court and also in the Oregon Court of Appeals.  Both courts ruled that the state had been within its rights and that Scott's property rights had not been violated. (See "Smith v. State Highway Commission"  )

Article about Helen Scott's Case in 1975
(read it here)

If you live within 1/4 of a mile of any of the waterways mentioned in SB 401, you should be very concerned about the future of your home, even if you are just a renter. Large portions of Cave Junction, Grants Pass, Rogue River, Gold Hill, Roseburg and other towns will be effected by SB 401. Near the bottom of this e-mail, you can get an approximate idea of how SB 401 is going to influence the above mentioned towns.

To make matters worse, Alan Bates has also introduced another bill, SB 388, which will set aside five "segments" of Scenic Waterway easements (to be named later) that will apparently be open to the public. The bill includes a provision to "educate property owners" about the "public's rights". This seems to indicate that the "five segments" to be opened to the public are apparently actually some unfortunate people's own private property!

Amazingly, SB 401 does not appear to actually impact any of Senator Alan Bates' own constituents. Obviously, Bates knows that SB 401 is so bad that he does not dare impose it upon people who might vote him out of office!

SB 401 and SB 388 must be stopped! Please call your State Senator as well as your local officials and tell them what you think of these bills. 

You can also contact Senator Bates at: 
541-282-6502 (local office) 503-986-1703 (state capital) 

Approximate effect of SB 401 on Grants Pass, Oregon along Rogue River

Approximate effect of SB 401 on the City of Rogue River, Oregon along Rogue River

Approximate effect of SB 401 on Gold Hill, Oregon along Rogue River

Approximate effect of SB 401 on Cave Junction, Oregon along Illinois River

Approximate effect of SB 401 on Roseburg, Oregon along South Umpqua River

 Please call your State Senator today and tell him/her to vote “NO” on SB 115, SB 370 and SB 401.
Alternatively, you can call Senate President Peter Courtney at: 503-986-1600 or email him at:

Please also tell them NO on SB 115 and SB 370 if you support using our natural resources!
(Click for more info)

Please also call Senator Alan Bates and give him a piece of your mind at:

541-282-6502 (local office) 503-986-1703 (state capital)
or e-mail him at:

Also see - Report Alan Bates for Violating Your Rights

If you would like to e-mail every member of the Oregon Senate to tell them to vote "No" on SB 115, SB 370 and SB 401, please use the e-mail string below:,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,

Download a flyer about SB 401 and SB 388 to distribute to your friends and neighbors. Get it here!

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