Communities

Writing
Writing
Codidact Meta
Codidact Meta
The Great Outdoors
The Great Outdoors
Photography & Video
Photography & Video
Scientific Speculation
Scientific Speculation
Cooking
Cooking
Electrical Engineering
Electrical Engineering
Judaism
Judaism
Languages & Linguistics
Languages & Linguistics
Software Development
Software Development
Mathematics
Mathematics
Christianity
Christianity
Code Golf
Code Golf
Music
Music
Physics
Physics
Linux Systems
Linux Systems
Power Users
Power Users
Tabletop RPGs
Tabletop RPGs
Notifications
Mark all as read
Q&A

In the US is it legal to travel on any river/creek my canoe will navigate?

+0
−0

I have always assumed that if my Canoe will float, and the waterway ultimately reaches an ocean it is legal to travel on.

I looked around for documents that said it clearly one way or the other. Surprisingly I did not find anything helpful in this Wikipedia Article Water law in the United States

I did find this article Review of the Relationship of Federal and State Law Regarding Rivers but not the sure how neutral of source it is.

This question, assumes the access to the waterway is gained via a legal point of access. Crossing private land without permission, is not implied or part of this question.

In the US is it legal to travel on any river/creek the my canoe will navigate?

Why does this post require moderator attention?
You might want to add some details to your flag.
Why should this post be closed?

0 comment threads

4 answers

+2
−0

All waters no, some places like National Parks require permits, see Dinosaur Monument and Canyonlands.

It also differs state by state, in some states the water belongs to the public but not the stream bed, so floating is fine but using an anchor is trespassing. In other states the public has a right to the water and the sides to the high water mark, so one can get out and wade.

In Wyoming, landowners own the streambed. Anyone may float across private land on navigable water, but the streambed is the property of the owner.

...

In Idaho, the state controls the waterways to the ‘Ordinary High Water Mark’ (OHWM); the land submerged below the ordinary high water mark of streams and rivers within the state are held by the Idaho Public Trust.

How Stream Access Laws Affect a Landowner

Why does this post require moderator attention?
You might want to add some details to your flag.

0 comment threads

+2
−0

As mentioned in the answer provided by Charlie Brumbaugh, many states use the Ordinary High Water Mark (OHWM) to define the limits of state control. The images below from the American Water Works Association publication entitled Understanding the Proposed Definition of the Waters of the United States help illustrate what this means:

enter image description here

enter image description here

Why does this post require moderator attention?
You might want to add some details to your flag.

This post was sourced from https://outdoors.stackexchange.com/a/20357. It is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0.

0 comment threads

+1
−0

Don't violate Zebra Mussel restrictions!!!

There are lots of lakes in Minnesota, and many of them are connected by streams. Its is great to paddle between them in a canoe, you can go tens of miles through dozens of lakes if you have the time and back strength.

That being said, some lake have zebra mussels, and some don't. Minnesota DNR has restrictions about moving boats from some lakes to other lakes based on the presence of zebra mussels. Its technically illegal; though as a canoer there is basically no chance you would get caught, and I don't imagine the penalties are very steep even if you do.

The same restrictions due to mussels probably apply to many states. I know they used to in Colorado, but I think they've lost by now and pretty much all the lakes in the Front Range are invaded. Anyways, watch out for mussels, and please don't spread them through carelessness and apathy.

Why does this post require moderator attention?
You might want to add some details to your flag.

This post was sourced from https://outdoors.stackexchange.com/a/20358. It is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0.

0 comment threads

+1
−0

No.

Water use, like everything else in the US, is a patchwork of Federal, State, and Local regulations plus quasi-legal muscle. Multiple overlapping laws and agencies can apply at each level. Here's some examples in my home state of Oregon.

Oswego Lake

In Oregon ORS 537.110 flatly states "All water within the state from all sources of water supply belongs to the public." and Weise v. Smith (1869) upheld that "Every person has an undoubted right to use a public highway, whether upon land or water, for all legitimate purposes of trade and transportation." Case closed, anyone can use waterways, right?

Well...

The Lake Oswego Corporation likes to claim it owns Oswego Lake and the Lake Oswego City Council claims it can bar anyone entry. While the corporation does own the lakebed, the Oregon Attorney General says they don't own the water, it's owned by the public and the public has a right to access. Lake Oswego Corporation says that only applies to navigable waterways and according to the Federal Water Resources Development Act the lake is not navigable. Police have made it clear they consider the lake public and are not going to pursue charges against anyone using the lake.

This whole mess is currently being adjudicated by the Oregon Supreme Court. If you're interested in the legal issues surrounding public waterway use in the US, that case will provide ample reading.

Rogue River

While the Rogue River lies entirely inside Oregon, portions are managed by the US Forest Service, US Bureau of Reclamation, and the US Bureau of Land Management (BLM). Each have their own rules. For example, the Wild section of the Rogue River is managed by BLM and requires a permit during certain parts of the year.

Why does this post require moderator attention?
You might want to add some details to your flag.

This post was sourced from https://outdoors.stackexchange.com/a/20360. It is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0.

0 comment threads

Sign up to answer this question »

This community is part of the Codidact network. We have other communities too — take a look!

Want to advertise this community? Use our templates!

Like what we're doing? Support us! Donate