The Oregon Administrative Rules contain OARs filed through April 15, 2017








(1) This rule carries out requirements of the Estuarine Resources Goal (State-Wide Planning Goal 16). To assure diversity among the estuaries of the state, the Estuarine Resources Goal requires in part that LCDC, with the cooperation and participation of local governments, special districts, and state and federal agencies, shall classify the Oregon estuaries to specify the most intensive level of development or alteration allowable within each estuary. This rule is adopted pursuant to ORS 197.040(1)(b). (See Appendix A.)

(2) The estuarine classification system adopted by this rule:

(a) Specifies the most intensive level of development or alteration allowable within each estuary;

(b) Directs the kinds of management units appropriate and allowable in each estuary;

(c) Affects the extent of detail required and items inventoried for each estuary;

(d) Affects the issuance of and conditions attached to permits by state and federal agencies;

(e) Provides guidance for the dispersal of state and federal public works funds; and

(f) Indirectly affects decisions concerning private investment in and around estuaries.

(3) Appendix A -- Oregon Estuary Classification System, is incorporated into this rule.

[ED. NOTE: Appendix & Publications referenced are available from the agency.]

Stat. Auth.: ORS 197
Stats. Implemented: ORS 197.040
Hist.: LCD 12, f. & ef. 10-14-77; LCDD 3-2004, f. & cert. ef. 5-7-04



As used in this rule, unless the context requires otherwise:

(1) "Alteration" means any man-caused change in the environment, including physical, topographic, hydraulic, biological, or other similar environmental changes, or changes which affect water quality.

(2) "Altered Shorelines" include shorelines with bulkheads, seawalls, riprap, or other physical structures, but do not include earthen, vegetated dikes.

(3) "Commission" means the Oregon Land Conservation and Development Commission.

(4) "Design Depth" means the channel depth authorized by Congress and maintained by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The actual maintained depth of a channel may exceed the design or authorized depth because of:

(a) The limits of dredging precision which causes "overdepth"; and

(b) The practice, where approved by the Corps of Engineers, of "advanced maintenance" overdredging which designates the amount of extra depth to be dredged to insure clear project depths for the time period between maintenance operations.

(5) "Entrance Channel" means that portion of the waterway exposed to wave surge from the open sea and which provides protected access or opening to the main channel, as authorized by the Corps of Engineers.

(6) "Estuary" means a body of water semi-enclosed by land, connected with the open ocean, and within which salt water is usually diluted by freshwater derived from land. The estuary includes estuarine water, tidelands, tidal marshes, and submerged lands. Estuaries extend upstream to the head of tidewater, except for the Columbia River estuary, which, by definition, is considered to extend to the western edge of Puget Island.

(7) "Jetty" means a structure extending seaward from the mouth of a river designed to stabilize the river mouth by preventing the build up of material at the river's mouth, and to direct or confine the stream or tidal flow.

(8) "Main Channel" means that part of a waterway which extends upstream from the entrance channel into the estuary proper (also called "inner channel"). All or segments of the main channel may be maintained by dredging. The main channel does not include auxiliary channels or waterways.

(9) "Maintained Channels and Jetties" are only those channels or jetties authorized by Congress and which are periodically rehabilitated to deepen or stabilize the watercourse.

Stat. Auth.: ORS 197
Stats. Implemented: ORS 197.040
Hist.: LCD 12, f. & ef. 10-14-77


Classification System

There are four different types of estuaries. These are defined as:

(1) "Natural estuaries": Estuaries lacking maintained jetties or channels, and which are usually little developed for residential, commercial, or industrial uses. They may have altered shorelines, provided that these altered shorelines are not adjacent to an urban area. Shorelands around natural estuaries are generally used for agricultural, forest, recreation, and other rural uses.

(2) "Conservation estuaries": Estuaries lacking maintained jetties or channels, but which are within or adjacent to urban areas which have altered shorelines adjacent to the estuary.

(3) "Shallow-draft development estuaries": Estuaries with maintained jetties and a main channel (not entrance channel) maintained by dredging at 22 feet or less, except Nehalem Bay, which now has only authorized jetties and no authorized or maintained channel.

(4) "Deep-draft development estuaries": Estuaries with maintained jetties and a main channel maintained by dredging at deeper than 22 feet.

Stat. Auth.: ORS 197
Stats. Implemented: ORS 197.040
Hist.: LCD 12, f. & ef. 10-14-77; LCD 3-1981, f. & ef. 3-4-81


Major Estuary Classification

Twenty-one of the twenty-two major Oregon estuaries are classed in the following manner:

(1) Natural Estuaries include Sand Lake, Salmon River, Elk River (Curry County), Sixes River, and Pistol River.

(2) Conservation Estuaries include Necanicum River, Netarts Bay, Nestucca River, Siletz Bay, Alsea Bay, and Winchuck River.

(3) Shallow-draft Development Estuaries include Tillamook Bay, Nehalem Bay, Depoe Bay, Siuslaw River, Umpqua River, Coquille River, Rogue River, and Chetco River.

(4) Deep-draft Development Estuaries include Columbia River, Yaquina Bay, and Coos Bay.

Stat. Auth.: ORS 197
Stats. Implemented: ORS 197.040
Hist.: LCD 12, f. & ef. 10-14-77; LCD 3-1981, f. & ef. 3-4-81


Minor Estuary Classification

Minor estuaries, including tidal streams which have estuarine features, are not classified at this time. Minor estuaries shall be identified and classed as either natural estuaries or conservation estuaries during the development of local comprehensive plans.

Stat. Auth.: ORS 197
Stats. Implemented: ORS 197.040
Hist.: LCD 12, f. & ef. 10-14-77


Level of Development or Alteration

No development or alteration shall be more intensive than that specified in the Estuarine Resources Goal as permissible uses for comparable management units:

(1)(a) Natural estuaries shall be managed to preserve the natural resources and the dynamic natural processes. Those uses which would change, alter, or destroy the natural resources and natural processes are not permitted. Natural estuaries shall only be used for undeveloped, low intensity, water-dependent recreation; and navigation aids such as beacons and buoys; protection of habitat, nutrient, fish, wildlife, and aesthetic resources; passive restoration measures, and where consistent with the resource capabilities of the area and the purposes of maintaining natural estuaries, aquaculture; communication facilities; placement of low water bridges and active restoration measures. Existing man-made features may be retained, maintained, and protected where they occur in a natural estuary. Activities and uses, such as waste discharge and structural changes, are prohibited. Riprap is not an allowable use, except that it may be allowed to a very limited extent where necessary for erosion control to protect:

(A) Uses existing as of October 7, 1977;

(B) Unique natural resource and historical and archeological values, or;

(C) Public facilities; and where consistent with the natural management unit description in Goal #16 (and as deemed appropriate by the permitting agency).

(b) Natural estuaries shall contain only natural management units, as provided in the Estuarine Resource Goal.

(2) Conservation estuaries shall be managed for long-term uses of renewable resources that do not require major alterations of the estuary. Permissible uses in conservation management units shall be those allowed in section (1) of this rule; active restoration measures; aquaculture; and communication facilities. Where consistent with resource capabilities of the management unit and the purposes of maintaining conservation management units, high-intensity water-dependent recreation; maintenance dredging of existing facilities; minor navigational improvements; mining and mineral extraction; water dependent uses requiring occupation of water surface area by means other than fill; bridge crossings; and riprap shall also be appropriate. Conservation estuaries may have shorelines within urban or developed areas. Dredged marinas and boat basins without jetties or channels are appropriate in conservation estuaries. Waste discharge meeting state and federal water quality standards would be acceptable. Maintained jetties and channels shall not be allowed. Conservation estuaries shall have both conservation and natural management units, as provided in the Estuarine Resource Goal.

(3)(a) Both shallow and deep draft development estuaries shall be managed to provide for navigation and other identified needs for public, commercial, and industrial water-dependent uses consistent with overall Estuarine Resources Goal requirements. Where consistent with the development management unit requirements of the Estuarine Resources Goal, other appropriate uses include riprap and those uses listed as permissible uses in development management units in the Estuarine Resources Goal. Minor and major navigational improvements are allowed in both shallow-draft and deep-draft estuaries, consistent with the requirements of the Goal. However, in shallow-draft estuaries, extension or improvements in main channels shall not be designed to exceed 22 feet in depth. Information about the location, extent, and depth of channels and jetties including planned extensions, shall be developed during the local planning process and described in the comprehensive plan;

(b) Shallow and deep-draft development estuaries shall have natural, conservation, and development management units as provided in the Estuarine Resources Goal.

Stat. Auth.: ORS 197
Stats. Implemented: ORS 197.040
Hist.: LCD 12, f. & ef. 10-14-77; LCD 5-1979, f. & ef. 8-8-79


Revisions and Changes

(1) The Commission shall review the overall Oregon Estuary Classification at the request of any coastal jurisdiction after the inventories and initial planning efforts are completed for all estuaries. Initial planning efforts include the identification of needs, and of potential conflicts among needs and goals.

(2) Any change in the Oregon Estuary Classification must retain diversity among Oregon Estuaries.

(3) Requests for change should be addressed to the Director of the Department of Land Conservation and Development.

Stat. Auth.: ORS 197
Stats. Implemented: ORS 197.040
Hist.: LCD 12, f. & ef. 10-14-77

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