Boat Docks and Launch Ramps on the Colorado River
Frequently Asked Questions
Have land on or near the Colorado River? Have a boat dock or boat launch on the Colorado River?Construction of boat docks and boat launch ramps are likely encroaching onto state sovereign land.
What is State Sovereign Land?Arizona state sovereign land is that part of the bed of the river from its centerline to the ordinary high water mark (OHWM) on the Arizona shore. The OHWM is the highest level at which the river rises during periods of normal flow, as opposed to the higher flood levels attained following a major storm event.
The Arizona State Land Department (Department) has been mandated to manage the state’s sovereign land in order to preserve it for use by the public for fishing, commerce, and recreation. While the Department manages the riverbed, it is the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) which regulates the water in the river and keeps it free of obstruction for navigation. Therefore, any land owner who wishes to construct a dock or ramp on the Colorado River will have to acquire both a construction permit from the USACE, and a Special Land Use Permit from the Department. The land owner may apply for both permits concurrently, but the Department will not issue its permit until the USACE permit process is completed and a copy of the permit has been submitted to the Department.
What Boat Dock or Launch Ramp do you own?Review the docks and ramps below. If you have or know of one of these, please notify the owner and apply for a Permit or Lease.
CommercialA boat dock, launch ramp or other marine use of sovereign land is considered a commercial use if a fee is charged to the public by the owner of the facilities in order to make a profit., or if the use is associated with any other non-residential activity (i.e., the use is included with an entertainment package as part of a resort use). Examples include gas fill-up docks, private marinas, and government and municipal entities. This type of use requires a Commercial Special Land Use Permit. Permit fees vary depending on the type of enterprise, activity level, and degree of impact. Please contact the Sales and Leasing Section of the Department for more information.
CommunityAny not-for-profit entity which offers marine services exclusively to three or more residents of adjacent lands, such as a homeowner’s association or condominium association, is deemed to be a community use. A Commercial Special Land Use Permit or lease is required. Please contact the Sales and Leasing Section of the Department for more information.
An upland owner who wishes to construct a private boat dock for personal recreational use must apply for a permit on the form entitled Non-Commercial Sovereign Land Boat Dock / Launch Ramp Permit Application. The cost of the application is $100, non-refundable. If the applicant meets all of the Department’s requirements, a Permit is issued at a cost of $50 per year for a period of 10 years. A metal decal will be issued with the Permit and should be hung on the boat dock or near the ramp where it can be seen from the river.