WA River: No Trespassing / STAYOUT!

Discussion in 'Fly Fishing Forum' started by Andrew H, Feb 8, 2014.

  1. Flyborg Active Member

    Posts: 2,313
    Kalama, WA
    Ratings: +604 / 0
    Owning the riverbed doesn't mean much in Washington. As others have noted, you can be deeded the land under a sidewalk, but you have no right to kick pedestrians off of it. And don't confuse the ambiguous federal "navigability" precedent with Washington's very clear Shoreline Management Act. Anything that flow's over 20cfs is governed by the SMA and it guarantees the Ordinary High Water Mark as accessible to anglers.

    I've dealt with the guy on the Kalama who gets pissed when you stand on "his" island in the river. I'm tempted to remind him that I know where he lives and I firmly believe in human sacrifice.
  2. _WW_ Fishes with Wolves

    Posts: 1,941
    Skagit River
    Ratings: +675 / 0
    I would like the original poster to send me a map to the exact spot where that sign is so I can be sure to trip over it and hurt my back... and neck...and probably my knee too for good measure. I hope there is cell service there so I can call my own ambulance! Otherwise I may lie there needlessly suffering for days...
    David Dalan likes this.
  3. David Dalan 69°19'15.35" N 18°44'22.74" E

    Posts: 1,997
    Walla Walla, WA
    Ratings: +783 / 0
    SMA is not referenced enough...summary below. Specifically discusses public access provisions.

  4. Yard Sale Active Member

    Posts: 372
    The Hood
    Ratings: +158 / 0
    That's the guy. True piece of work. Although I wasn't on the river a lot last season I didn't see him when I was there. He either got tired of yelling at me or had a syroke from all that anger. My money is on the latter.
  5. Yard Sale Active Member

    Posts: 372
    The Hood
    Ratings: +158 / 0
    Double post.

    So if the property isn't posted they can't prove you knowingly trespassed?

    Not that I would push it. The whole reason I bought a boat was to avoid these issues. Especially with dogs...
  6. jwg Active Member

    Posts: 559
    West Richland, WA
    Ratings: +118 / 0
    Great information. I was not aware that wa had such a law.

    It appears that it recognizes in state law the public trust doctrine.

    "The Act also implements the common law Public Trust Doctrine. The essence of this court doctrine is that the waters of the state are a public resource for the purposes of navigation, conducting commerce, fishing, recreation and similar uses and that this trust is not invalidated by private ownership of the underlying land"

    So when some folks say that public trust doctrine in wa state won't be settled until courts act on it, that would seem to be incorrect if this statute already sets out as a matter of law that public trust doctrine applies in wa.

    I don't claim expertise, but this established law seems clear enough.
    EDIT: not so obvious when I read through the law...
  7. kurtataltos Active Member

    Posts: 134
    Los Altos, CA
    Ratings: +45 / 0
    This was pretty well beaten to death on this thread (as another poster noted):


    The bottom line is that if the river is "navigatable" you can access to the high water mark. If your boots are wet, you're legal. You cannot trespass to get to that point. Deeds showing a property line to the center of a stream are, with very, very few exceptions, bogus. Having noted all that, from the opposing perspective, leaving trash, pissing in peoples back yards, screwing up their private property above the high water mark...all that does is enforce the property owners anger and perspective while it damages any constructive effort to maintain river access.

    If you are approached by a land owner who threatens to call the police, grab your cell phone and dial 911 and have the police and/or Fish and Game arrive for a talk. Just be sure you didn't trash the place, trespass or do something stupid. The thread mentioned above has one person who provides a link to a source with the facts from a federal perspective and if you have that handy little pamphlet in your hand your can provide it to the cop or F&G warden.

    As with most things, there is a pendulum swing. Absolutely no access on one extreme end, everything open to everyone on the other end. Rational and constructive solutions usually reside in the middle of the swing.

    And if the property owner OR the fisherman pulls a weapon, dial 911, no hesitation. Brandishing and threatening with a firearm is a felony.
    Cruik, jwg and KevinLS like this.