USGS Washington Water Science Center
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Determining whether a stream or river in Washington is "navigable" is important because it helps establish state ownership of the "bed and shore" of navigable waterways as stated in the Washington State constitution. State-owned lands are managed by the Washington State Department of Natural Resources. Because the constitution does not explicitly define what criteria should be used to determine whether a stream or river is navigable, the Washington State Department of Natural Resources needs an objective methodology that includes physical channel characteristics in determining whether a stream may be navigable.
To develop such a methodology and draw a preliminary statewide map of potentially navigable streams, the Washington State Department of Natural Resources has requested USGS assistance. USGS will determine physical characteristics associated with potentially navigable waters and use a geographic information system (GIS) to create a preliminary statewide map.