|South Fork Shenandoah River|
Our navigable waters - streams, creeks, rivers, and bays - are supposed to be open for all Virginians. They are conserved for the people as places for fishing, swimming, boating, and solitude. All sportsmen thought that access to our public waters was assured but recently some landowners have accused boaters and others of trespass even though they never set foot on dry land.
It appears that simply posting signs and threatening to sue is enough to "privatize" a river or steam. When you show up in court the landowner has the upper hand as he/she often won't have to prove ownership of the riverbed and our "commonwealth" won't lend a hand or a paddle to defend your rights to public access. More info on the background and legalities at the Virginia Conservation Network.
This loophole in the law needs to be plugged and only the General Assembly can do it. Contact your delegate and senator and tell them to act during the 2014 session. Tell them to keep our navigable rivers in the public domain for the use of everyone in the commonwealth.