The right to access and fish a river or stream is currently a crazy quilt of regulations. It shouldn’t be. Stream access should be open to everyone.
“The right to access flowing water should not be determined by the size of your bank account or the deed you hold to a piece of trophy land.” That’s the stance taken by Backcountry Hunters & Anglers. Stream access is a key issue with the sportsman’s group.
The laws that govern stream access vary from state to state. Not everyone has equal rights to access rivers and streams.
In many states a streambed is treated as a public right of way. You can walk or wade the stream, and it’s shore, no matter who owns the land, so long as you stay below the high-water mark. But in other states, like Wyoming and Colorado, you cannot walk the banks or even step out of your boat. You can’t even drop anchor for fear of trespassing.
In states such as the aforementioned, as well as Utah and New Mexico, the streambed belongs to the landowner.
In Arizona the laws are even more restrictive. You cannot even float through private land without the landowner’s permission.
This isn’t right. Public waterways belong to the public, regardless of whose land they flow through. Backcountry Hunters & Anglers is fighting for stream access throughout the country.
BHA says, “We respect private property rights, but we won’t stand by and watch special interests threaten our stream access heritage. As anglers and hunters, we believe that rivers and streams are as vital to our health and happiness as the air we breathe.”
To that end BHA has created a movement called Stream Access Now. Stream Access Now is designed to raise awareness, fight proposals that limit access, and proactively fight to expand stream access opportunities.
Visit the website, find out What’s At Stake, and join the fight. They are your waterways as well.
Like what you see here? You can read more great articles by David Smith at his facebook page, Stumpjack Outdoors.