A reader - aka “Concerned” – posted this comment on a different, unrelated topic. I didn’t want it to get buried because it’s an interesting, important topic. As the reader suggested, it’s one that would be worth my looking into if I could make it happen.
As a fellow paddler I am sure you have heard of the “King’s Grant” laws in VA as they pertain to public use of rivers, streams, and creeks. As a fellow fisherman I am sure you know of the headaches this has caused in the past below Lake Moomaw.
In 2008 there was hope as the commonwealth was close to appointing a committee to research, review, and update the out of date law. But as far as budgets are concerned there was no way to fund this committee (and all the others) and the issue was dropped. Little hope remains for this issue to be looked at in 2009.
I challenge you to delve into the politics of this law and why exactly we would want to protect and endorse this law that effectivly grants the actual water rights and water beds to individual land owners.
I will agree that the law has validity for landowners that need to use streams and creeks for drinking water or for watersheds that are simply too small to fish or boat on. But other creeks and even rivers are currently ‘off limits’ due to the threat of tresspassing charges, etc.
These watersheds are not just your simple trickle of water past a landowners house, but navigatble in fact waterflows that run at flows favorable for boating or fishing nearly year round. When the gov’t deems a wateshed navigatable it looks at the past usage of the watershed and if it was ever used as a ‘mode of transportation’ for people or goods.
Well fast forward to now. We are in a technological revolution. Alot of gear is used regularly now that did not exist even 10 years ago. Many enthusiasts regularly push the limit on what can be tried, done, accomplished, etc.
If we are deeming a waterway navigatable by how many logs were floated down it 200 years ago, how can that compare to what is being done now with current boats and technology? How can we sit back and pay taxes to build reservoirs, dams, & levees to control floodwater and protect the public and then simply be content with that same waterflow being completely granted over to a private landowner downstream?
Why do we help fund gov’t programs to farm raise trout and release them into natural streams only to let them wash downstream into ‘private’ ‘kings grant’ ‘no access’ areas? As a lover of our mtn waterways i think it is time that we fought back agaist the ‘commonwealth crux’ that has hurt the paddling and fishing community in VA.”