Freedom To Use Rivers

Discussion in 'Hunters Rights Forum' started by National Rivers, Jul 3, 2014.

  1. huntineveryday

    huntineveryday Senior Refuge Member

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    Not every state treats navigable waterways this way. In my state (Nebraska) it is enforced that the landowner owns the bank and the river bed, the public has the water. If you drop anchor or step foot on either without permission you could be cited for trespassing. The exception is if you are portaging around an obstacle. From what I have read if this were to get challenged in court, as has happened in other states, statutes might be changed to align with federal precedent. The case would have to be argued up to that point first, however.

    Long and short of it, every state may treat the issue differently, so know your state laws unless you want to be the one to argue a case to the state Supreme Court.
     
  2. gadwall52

    gadwall52 Elite Refuge Member

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    So is abortion illegal in Nebraska?
     
  3. gadwall52

    gadwall52 Elite Refuge Member

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    My point is navigable river law is the jurisdiction of the federal courts. Federal law trumps state law under the Supremacy Clause of the Constitution . Every state owns the bed and banks of navigable waters to the OHWM.
     
  4. huntineveryday

    huntineveryday Senior Refuge Member

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    I understand your point gadwall52, and I realize that there have been changes in other states recently due to state statutes being challenged in court. My point was that in Nebraska if you try to walk up a navigable river standing in the water on the river bed, or if you anchor your boat in that same river, you can be cited for trespassing on private property by state or local law enforcement. You might also have to appeal your case up the chain of courts in order to get out of that citation. While you should win, based upon precedent set in other states, you will likely end up with trespassing charges on your record or a potentially large sum of money tied up in fighting that case.

    And people need to realize that they can still be charged with trespassing in some states before they read the initial post and go try to hit a new spot on a navigable waterway claiming federal laws allow it.
     
  5. huntineveryday

    huntineveryday Senior Refuge Member

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    I canoe and kayak a lot in Nebraska, and my friends and I have discussed whether it would be worthwhile to try and overturn the state statutes or not. Right now our game and parks interprets the navigable waterway laws as such that you can float any river, creek, or stream as long as you don't touch the bottom or shore, aside from portaging around obstacles. With the overwhelming proportion of our state privately owned this opens up a lot of river for paddle sport activities. However, I think most of the waterways would have a hard time meeting the criteria for being a "navigable waterway". The Missouri and Platte rivers are the two that easily would fall into that category. If the laws were changed to match federal interpretation, it would open up thousands of acres of ground to public hunting along those two rivers (although a large percentage of the Platte would only be accessible by airboat or paddle craft). The catch is that it could also close off thousands of miles of other rivers for other recreational activities.
     
  6. gadwall52

    gadwall52 Elite Refuge Member

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    Hunting, I researched Nebraska's laws. Nebraska erroneously only recognizes the Missouri as navigable. They do claim the bed and banks of that river as in the public domain to the OHWM. They have a floating easement on all other streams that allows for the public to use the waters for recreation. The thing is if the stream is usable for floating and other similar activities it obviously meets the federal test for navigablity. SCOTUS ruled in the Daniel Ball decision that any water navigable in fact was navigable in law. No state can rule a navigable water nonnavigable only a federal court can .
     
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