Thursday, June 25, 2009

Access Fight On the SOHO

Just in case you thought access rights issues weren't a problem in the rivers created and regulated by your tax dollars, we thought we would point out this group of postings on the Southeast Fly Fishing Forum. It seems a "group" of folks who own property on Tennessee's famous South Holston River are telling wading anglers to get off their land. This can't be good.

Several landowners on the SOHO have begun a campaign to deny people's right to fish on their part of the river bottom.Your moderators have been discussing it for several days in an attempt to separate fact from fiction. There are lawyers looking into this which were asked to do so by TU.

In short, some landowners would like to privatize the river which would mean that we the public could only fish on water owned by TVA or the state.... Yesterday, our fellow forum member BillRes was confronted by a landowner and the local law enforcement. This situation was defused by a River's Way member.

It's complicated, to say the least...

The landowners in question are claiming their rights because reportedly their deeds give them ownership to all land up to the middle of the river not the high water line. This is being interpreted as meaning that folks can't wade on their private property which in this case is the river bottom.

In one post on another website the fisherman was told by the landowner that he had to wade on the other side of the river. No one seems to have tested whether this means you can't float through or anchor there, or even fish as long as you don't get out of a boat. If this is the case then navigability is not an issue nor is fishing, only wading on private property.

Like I said, it's complicated....

I understand this to say that even though his deed may say that he owns to the middle of the river the land at the bottom of the river never belonged to whoever he bought the land from in the first place so therefore it is not his land past the high water mark.

I worked for a surveyor for a while and have seen deeds that say a landowner owns to the center line of a state maintained road, and we all know that even though his deed says that he owns half the road it still doesn't mean that he can prevent you from driving on it since it is truly owned and maintained by the state. Many times deeds were written to say that a landowner owns to the center of a road or river because it is a fairly stationary and permanent landmark that helps distinguish the property line.

Anybody seen Donnie Beaver lurking around these parts? Where are we going and why are we in this handbasket?

These posts are excerpted from various members of the SEFF and can be read in their entirety here:

****UPDATE***As with all things there are two sides to every story:

Be sure to read both. Could a few bad apples be spoiling the barrel for all of us?

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