State announces 'Operation Make Way' to clear shipping channel

Photo Credit: COURTESY OF THE OREGON STATE MARINE BOARD - A small recreational boat (foreground) crosses paths with a much larger commercial vessel (background) in the Columbia River. State laws in Oregon and Washington prohibit recreational boats from dropping anchor in the deep shipping channel of the river.The Oregon State Marine Board, United States Coast Guard and local sheriff’s offices will be participating in Operation Make Way, a state and federal effort to keep recreational boaters from dropping anchor in the shipping channel of the Columbia River, the Marine Board announced Wednesday, July 30.

Beginning Friday, boaters could face significant fines for anchoring in the shipping channel. The operation is being timed to coincide with the annual salmon run, which brings thousands of fishermen out to the river and tributary streams.

Randy Henry, a boating safety official with the Marine Board, said in a statement, “Some anglers choose to anchor in the channel, which is already illegal under state law, then expect large commercial freighters to navigate around them. This is like parking your car on a railroad track and expecting the train to go around you.”

Fines under state law are $260, but federal citations from the Coast Guard could be as high as $5,000, according to the Marine Board. The Columbia County Sheriff’s Office is among the local law enforcement agencies participating in the operation, as are its Washington counterparts in Clark and Cowlitz counties, which share a riverine border with Columbia County.

Operation Make Way is expected to last through August and September, with participating agencies teaming up to provide extra enforcement of the laws on “key days,” the board said.

To report a boater who is not in compliance with the law, contact the Coast Guard at 503-861-6211.

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