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Oregon State Marine Board now requires decals for towed watersport craft, bans wake surfing

PMG FILE PHOTO - In recognition of Senate Bill 1589, passed by the Legislature in April, the so-called Newberg Pool Congested Zone now has boat regulations different that other waterways in the state

The Oregon State Marine Board (OSMB) has announced new rules for motorboat activities in the Newberg Pool, the stretch of the Willamette River roughly from its confluence with the Yamhill River near McMinnville downstream to Willamette Falls in Oregon City.

In recognition of Senate Bill 1589, passed by the Legislature in April, the so-called Newberg Pool Congested Zone now has boat regulations different than other waterways in the state.

"These laws require additional credentials for all towed watersports participants, restrict certain boating-related activities near structures and ban wake surfing," a release from the board said.

The state defines wake surfing as "propelling an individual forward on equipment like a surfboard using a boat's wake. The person may be holding a rope or free riding." Included are wake surfboards, wakeboards, stand-up paddleboards and hydrofoils.

The Newberg Pool was targeted by the state because of the width of the river, dock density and a history of high boater use. As a result, boat owners who expect to recreate in the area must apply for a Towed Watersport Endorsement and Towed Watersports Motorboat Certificate. The documents verify that the loading weight of the boat is under 5,500 pounds, cost $20 for two calendar years and are not transferable from boat to boat.

"Boats above this weight limit are not permitted to engage in towed watersport activities," the release said.

Boat owners who meet the new requirements will be issued boat decals that will placed on either side of the craft's bow.

SB 1589 was originally written to address safety concerns, water quality issues and increased erosion of the river's banks — which supporters say of the legislation insisted was largely due to sports like wake surfing and wakeboarding. As the bill made it through committee and to the Senate floor several aspects were changed, including increasing the maximum loading weight for wake sports from 4,000 pounds to 5,500 pounds (the former maximum was 10,000 pounds), expanding the length of the Newberg Pool, banning wake surfing and adding restrictions to wake-enhancing devices such as adding ballast to boats.

The legislation proved unpopular with some boat enthusiasts, many who testified against the bill at the committee level that it was overly restrictive and unfairly blamed boaters for their activities on the river.

For more information, call OSMB Policy and Environmental Program Manager Josh Mulhollen at 503-586-8080 or email him at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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