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Thread: Who Owns a River?

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  1. #1
    us
    Apr 2010
    Twin Cities, MN
    AT Pro
    150
    13 times

    Who Owns a River?

    I thought this article might interest a lot of you that MD in the rivers and creeks. This is a Supreme Court ruling and it can be vague at times about state rights and what changes the states can and can not change, but for the most part rivers are "Public Domain" and are open for "non destructive recreational activities". This was always I question I had was; who owns the river?

    Obviously a Wildlife management area, state park, national park, DNR land, etc... are No-No's and boundaries are marked on maps, but after that its open to recreational activities. Of course check with local or state parks to make sure the parks themselves don't have laws or ordinances against MDing.

    Basically if there is a river you want to preform "recreational activities" in and surrounded by Private land (so no parks, management/historical areas) as long as you can get to that land via public access you have every right to be there. It said that some deeds are drawn up where the person's "land" goes all the way to the center of the river, but this isn't technically legal.

    There is a lot more indepth explanation at the link and a lot of info. It was quite interesting.

    If you want to read more indepth check out this article.
    River Law: Who owns the rivers? River navigability law, for river access, river rights, river conservation, canoeing, kayaking, rafting, paddling, whitewater, and fly-fishing.
    "Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen." ~Winston Churchill

  2. #2
    us
    May 2012
    Candia New Hampshire
    A new Garrett AT PRO, Discovery 2000, Discovery 2200 and a brand new Bullseye II pinpointer
    14
    All Types Of Treasure Hunting
    I have read that the water is public property however the riverbed or " BED " of a water source Creek , river, stream etc. is private property out to half way across. and permission to dig in it or disturb the BED is needed.

    Dirtminer...

  3. #3

    Mar 2007
    Salinas, CA
    Explorer II, Compass 77b, Tesoro shadow X2
    6,127
    1781 times
    Banner Finds (3)
    Those type navigable waters wording have been used to keep beaches open to passerbys/beach-goers, even though the beach, above the high water line, might be private. Ie.: no one "owns" the water (or water's edge in this case), on "navigable" waters. And no dirtminer, I don't think that means that it's the water only (and not the bottom of the surf or lake). But interesting legal question.
    Metal detecting is my one worldy vice!

  4. #4
    BMJ
    BMJ is offline
    us
    Jul 2012
    cearfoss md
    whites coinmaster
    5
    All Types Of Treasure Hunting
    usaftrevor87
    thanks for the info I"am new to the hobby and have a river about 1/2 mile from the house so i will check out the sites

    BMJ

  5. #5
    us
    Apr 2010
    Twin Cities, MN
    AT Pro
    150
    13 times
    Quote Originally Posted by Dirtminer View Post
    I have read that the water is public property however the riverbed or " BED " of a water source Creek , river, stream etc. is private property out to half way across. and permission to dig in it or disturb the BED is needed.

    Dirtminer...
    In the article it addresses this issue. the Supreme Court Ruled that all parts of a navigable body of water (stream, lake, river, etc...) is considered public domain and private property starts at the high water line. So the property deed might say halfway into the river, but this is actually a myth.
    So Like Tom said, the "bed" of the river or whatever is private property to the high water line. After that its free game. So legally as long as the body of water had a public access, you could be basically standing next to someone's dock on a lake and it would be legal if you're not past the high water line.

    I wanted to post this because my friend is a Game Warden for the MN DNR and I was asking him about this stuff and he said the same thing. That as far as he knows Private Property goes to the middle of the river, but the public can use the waters. I then showed him the article and he brought it up to his supervisor and his supervisor said that the Article was right and that while many titling companies (real estate titling) still do it the old way of deeding up a land to the middle of the river because it looks better for the purchaser, like they are getting more, but that in actuality its technically not legal.
    Just wanted to pass this on so others could learn :-) I will definitely carry a copy with me when I'm water detecting because you know sooner or later if I'm walking down a river some nosey nelly will say something haha
    "Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen." ~Winston Churchill

  6. #6
    us
    Dec 2006
    upstate N.Y.
    Fisher cz-20/minelab explorer xs
    1,361
    52 times
    Banner Finds (1)
    Interesting ...Thanks for posting this.Theres a landowner here that thinks he owns the river.He has been known to cuss and even throw rocks at people on the river.His property borders the river at an old swim hole...people have been swimming there for 100 years or more and it realy bothers me that this idiot who hasent lived here for only a few years thinks that he can change something that has been enjoyed by the locals for long before he came around.

  7. #7
    us
    Apr 2010
    Twin Cities, MN
    AT Pro
    150
    13 times
    print two copies, one goes in his mailbox the day before the hunt & the other is for when he calls the cops haha you know jackasses like that will call...jerks

  8. #8
    us
    Jul 2012
    San Antonio, Texas
    Garrett 250
    2,795
    1200 times
    Research and occasional field work
    Be very careful. Whether the law is on your side or not, I have had a couple of friends fired upon here in Texas(they were in a canoe and ordered off the river) and there are always newspaper stories about people pulling guns to "protect their property".

  9. #9
    ECS
    ECS is offline
    us
    Mar 2012
    Ocala,Florida
    1,237
    305 times
    Treasurehunting & Historical research
    In the State of Florida,the state owns all the rivers and anything found in them.

  10. #10
    us
    Jan 2012
    Pinal Mountains,Arizona
    Garrett Groundhog-2012-1st MD. White's Goldmaster V/Sat-2nd-MD-2013
    1,025
    332 times
    Prospecting
    @ Ecs,
    As per this,i would question that.
    Of course there might be more to it.
    You would have to read the whole document as i did from the earlier post.

    Quote:
    Obviously neither the federal courts nor the state courts will ever have time to consider every river in the nation. So state government agencies or legislatures can make a provisional determination based on whether the river is physically usable as described in the federal test. If a state agency's determination accurately reflects both the physical characteristics of the river and the legal standards of the federal test, then the federal courts would presumably concur.
    But keep in mind that rivers that are physically navigable per the federal test are public land even with no state determination. Conversely, if a river is navigable in fact per the federal test, but a state agency or state legislature declares it not navigable and not public land, such a declaration must be regarded as erroneous.Unquote

    This means incorrect or wrong.erroneous
    I used to live in St Pete.Never heard of this.
    And actually,the Army Corp of Engineers has control over all inland waterways.
    bazookagoldtrap likes this.

  11. #11
    us
    "John Holmes Jr."

    Nov 2011
    French Gulch, North Calif.
    "WHITES" GOLDMASTER "GMT" & "TESORO GOLDEN SABRE II" with silent search.
    520
    28 times
    Metal Detecting
    I Live in Shasta County North California. I know a widow who her & her husband bought their property in 1969 and the famous Gold producing "Clear Creek" runs thru her property. She owns about a half mile long run of this creek and her property goes over the creek and half wau up the hill past the street. She told me several years ago a pick up truck pulled up with guys with beers, hunting rifles and a dredge in the back of the truck. The truck had to cross over her private bridge to get her property. the owner and her then husband told them to get off their property and they said she and her husband did not own the creek. She told them they have mineral rights and water rights and the main thing is they are on private property! They refused to leave, her husband jumped in his tractor and lifted the bucket and went toward the truck, he was about to push the truck and the driver of the truck backed the truck out and off the property and shouting they were goin to kill them before they left. What they did not know is the husband is a retired Naval CPO from Hawaii and he is very good with his rifle and assorted hand guns. I am not sain all prospectors are this way but their are some misled loaded canons around. Now since I was told about that I went and talked to the people at the"U.S. Department of the interior Bureau of land management", "BML" office who told me you have to access the creek from public land. He also informed me if you were taken to court all you have to tell the judge is: As long as your feet are wet you have the right to be in the creek! The BLM Office with it's people are very Helpfull and kind to prospectors and encourage Metal Detectorists in their hunt for gold with all the information and maps you need! ... Otherwise it would be hard to charge you as long as you are in the creek bed! I hope this info.helps, Peace.
    GOLD IS WHERE YOU FIND IT.. IT CAN HIDE BUT WHEN REAL IT DON'T LIE!
    My Mama Never raised No Fool... I Was Adopted!

  12. #12
    us
    Mar 2014
    Anderson,CA.
    Garrett Ace 350 - Garrett GTA- 500- Whites 4900D
    1
    All Types Of Treasure Hunting

    Theres alot thats perfectly legal to do in Shasta county still.

    Just be careful your not around that Whiskeytown National park.They will fine you thousands and take your gear and even your CAR for just looking for new coins at Brandy Crk. beach and Oak Bottom! When detecting in crks. be polite but have confidence. A lot of people just like to cause problems where none exsists. Life is short, have fun!

  13. #13
    Charter Member
    us
    Jul 2012
    Blackfoot, Idaho
    White GMT, DFX, Cinmaster, old Garrett Masterhunter BFO
    942
    605 times
    Prospecting
    In Idaho, the river beds were set aside as public property when the state was founded. If you can get in the river, or stream, on public land, you can go anywhere you want below the high-water mark. Idaho is great!
    Jim

  14. #14

    Mar 2007
    Salinas, CA
    Explorer II, Compass 77b, Tesoro shadow X2
    6,127
    1781 times
    Banner Finds (3)
    Quote Originally Posted by groundlooker View Post
    Just be careful your not around that Whiskeytown National park.They will fine you thousands and take your gear and even your CAR for just looking for new coins at Brandy Crk. beach and Oak Bottom! When detecting in crks. be polite but have confidence. A lot of people just like to cause problems where none exsists. Life is short, have fun!
    groundlooker, I don't doubt that there's not verbage in "national parks" that can be construed to forbid detecting. So don't get the next question wrong, or misconstrued. Ok, here goes: Can you cite any example of someone detecting there, who had " thousands of dollars fines, their gear, and their car taken", etc.... , for detecting new coins there? If so, please let us know.
    Metal detecting is my one worldy vice!

  15. #15

    Mar 2014
    1
    All Types Of Treasure Hunting
    I was detecting on Dauphin island al I was below the high tide mark and had the police called. Once they say I wasn't hunting above the HT mark they just asked how i was doing then moved on. There was a law on the books in alabama that it was illegal to remove artifacts from a waterway (ask the guy from Gold prospecting show) I think it was changed thanks to detectorist to indian artifacts.

 

 
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