River Users Should Know Their Rights

Discussion in 'Hunters Rights Forum' started by National Rivers, Dec 8, 2014.

  1. National Rivers

    National Rivers New Member

    Messages:
    17
    Joined:
    Oct 25, 2013
    Location:
    Colorado
    River users should know their rights

    Canoeists, kayakers, rafters, fishermen, and other river users should know their rights to use rivers in all fifty states, under federal law. Many lawyers and state government officials claim that public rights on rivers have to be decided by state legislatures or state supreme courts. However, under the Commerce Clause and the Supremacy Clause of the U.S. Constitution, federal law is the supreme law of the land, and all the states are bound thereby. The most recent federal court decision on the subject is Atlanta School of Kayaking v. Douglasville County (981 F.Supp. 1469, N.D.Ga.1997). Citing previous U.S. Supreme Court decisions, it confirms that public rights on small, shallow rivers that are navigable in kayaks are constitutional rights, and are a matter of federal law, not state law. The decision is now 17 years old, yet it has not been contradicted by any federal or state court.

    River users who want to help spread the word about these rights can download a new free one-page poster or handout, Public Rights on Rivers in Every State, at nationalrivers.org, and post it on bulletin boards in coffee houses, college campuses, community centers, outdoor equipment stores, and other public places.

    The poster-handout is backed up by the new short book, Public Rights on Rivers in Every State and through Federal Lands, which explains the subject in 72 concise pages, with over 200 footnotes citing federal statutes and court decisions. River users can get an inexpensive batch of 5, 10, or 20 copies for holiday gift giving. Sample pages are available at nationalrivers.org.

    People who doubt the message of the book can attempt to find federal law that contradicts it, although they will find that there is no such federal law or court decision. Because of the financial and political stakes involved, numerous lawyers and state government officials will continue to claim that public rights on rivers in their state are restricted to only certain large rivers, but such claims are politics, not law. From the time the states ratified the Constitution in 1788, to today, federal law has confirmed that rivers navigable in canoes and similar craft must remain ?forever free? to public use, including walking along the beds and banks of rivers through private land while boating or fishing.
     

Share This Page