Property owners along Upper Rogue win ownership battle with state

The issue of navigability of the Upper Rogue River has been finalized in a decision handed down by Circuit Court Judge Ron Grensky.  The decision was handed down Feb. 10.

The case- Wilbur Hardy et al vs Oregon State Land Board- came before the court Nov. 1, 2010 where the petitioner asked for a summary judgment. Previous opinion was issue July 2, 2010 with the order entered seven days later. At that time, “the court previously determined the issue of whether substantial evidence supported the states’ findings of navigability on the Rogue River for the portion(s) of the river which were the subject of the state’s navigability study,”  said Judge Grensky. “The courts’ findings on this issue are now the law of the case and the court will not be revisiting those findings,” concluded Grensky

At issue has been the Rogue River from MP 100 to 157.5 and property rights of those who reside along the banks of the Rogue. Property owners have been at odds with the state over the issue since the state claimed the entire Rogue was navigable. 

In the opinion issued by Grensky, he said the fact that the decision is not to the state’s liking, does not justify or authorize the court to start all over with additional evidence the state wishes they had initially presented.

The case may be appealed but unless that occurs, the decision has been rendered and determined the upper Rogue area as noted above is not navigable. 

This issue has been in the hands of legal firms for about three years. The state originally asserted the beds and banks of the river had been owned by the state since statehood, an issue of considerable concern to property owners.

The question of ownership of the river beds and banks is an issue not just along the Rogue River, it is one the state has been examining involving other major streams.  
By Nancy Leonard
Of the Independent


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