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Mark K

Illinois Stream Access Laws

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Can someone simplify this for me? (He asked hoping Mike Clifford chimes in)

So non-navigable waterway.  Land owner owns property on both sides of the stream.  He owns the stream bed below. I get that.

So.

Non Navigable stream, property lines go right down the middle of the stream.  You enter the "non-navigable waterway" legally and stay within  the highest water mark , or to be safe in the water.  Are you good to go?

 

 

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I researched this about 10 years ago with many phone calls placed to many people who “could better answer that question” and came to the conclusion that no official of any kind knows anything about stream access laws in the state of Illinois.  

It’s not worth the hassle.

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2 hours ago, Terry Dodge said:

I researched this about 10 years ago with many phone calls placed to many people who “could better answer that question” and came to the conclusion that no official of any kind knows anything about stream access laws in the state of Illinois.  

It’s not worth the hassle.

Which is scary, but not suprising in this state.

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I've come to the conclusion the issue is confusing for a reason, State attempting to balancing rights of land owners vs. outdoorsman without upsetting both.  For private access best bet IMO is to get permission from landowner to access and take out.

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You can always go to Wisconsin to fish where the access laws are simple. Stay within the high water line and you are legal on any stream or river. I'm not sure why our state is different and confusing.

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On 12/27/2019 at 2:26 PM, Bart Durham said:

I've come to the conclusion the issue is confusing for a reason, State attempting to balancing rights of land owners vs. outdoorsman without upsetting both.  For private access best bet IMO is to get permission from landowner to access and take out.

That's the point, in one mile there might be 10 land owners- that own only 1 half the stream.  In the entire stretch I see only one or two sections where someone owns both banks and one of those is the Boy Scouts who own a huge amount of land.

One could not possibly get everyones permission to access it, but if the law says that the land owner must own both banks to own the streambed, then you should not need it. 

 

 

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https://www.americanwhitewater.org/content/Wiki/access:il?

didn't know this and it refers to a navigable stream, so if a stream is navigable and someone owns the streambed then you only have the right to "navigate" (float?)  thru it.

 

Extent of Public Rights in Navigable and Non-Navigable Waters

In Illinois, “the public have an easement for purpose of navigation in waters which are navigable in fact, regardless of the ownership of the soil.”8) If the state owns the streambeds, then the public has the further right to hunt and fish, and generally recreate on the water.9) If the streambed is privately owned, however, and the stream is navigable in fact, then the public only has the right to navigate the water, and has no right to hunt or fish in that water.10)

It is unclear whether activities incident to navigation, such as portaging, are allowed. In meandered streams, which are held in public trust, portaging most likely is permissible because the federal navigation servitude should apply to these streams. Keep in mind that Illinois has a strong interest in conserving natural resources and in protecting and improving its physical environment,11) so care should be taken. As explained below, portaging on private land is most likely not allowed in Illinois.

 

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even worse. Page 363. 

http://via.library.depaul.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=2408&context=law-review

"In addition, many beds are conveyed because a grant by an owner of riparian land is presumed to convey

title to the center of the thread of a stream.Thus, the beds of most Illinois rivers and streams are privately owned.

Private ownership of river beds severely inhibits the public's right to engage in recreational activities on Illinois waterways. Under Illinois common

law the owner of a river bed has the exclusive right to hunt and fish over the water lying above the bed.  Furthermore, only the bed owner may enter

upon the water covering that segment of the bed owned by him or her. Consequently, swimming by members of the public may be prohibited by

the bed owners."

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23 minutes ago, Mark K said:

Careful. Check with the state of Illinois Copy & Paste laws before posting.

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Much of the confusion is due to land owners not being aware of the latest laws as they apply to people on their property.

Secifically, the liability factor. Several years ago, the Recreational Use of Land and Water Areas Act in Illinois was worded in such a way that only included liability protections for a land owner for hunters and recreational shooting. All the wording related to fishing, hiking, conservation and any other activity was removed from the Act.

We can thank trial attorney groups for that.

When I attended Conservation Congress in Springfield, getting the other activities re-worded into the Act was at the top of my list of objectives. I can't say for sure what may have happened to get those protections put back into the wording, but as of today they are once again included. One gentleman I met there all but assured me that he could turn it around if it was that important to us, and we had a meeting scheduled. Unfortunately, he passed away before we could have a serious conversation. 

I can't say for certain that navigability laws hinge upon this particular Act (probably not), but if a land owner still believes that an angler is going to drown on their property, a hiker breaks a leg or a bird watcher falls from a tree while trying to get a closer look.....and they believe they will get sued......then there is little hope we are getting permission, and a great likelihood that they won't change their minds on that. Regardless of the fact that the protections are back in place. 

Hope that makes sense. 

 

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16 hours ago, Mike Clifford said:

 

Much of the confusion is due to land owners not being aware of the latest laws as they apply to people on their property.

Secifically, the liability factor. Several years ago, the Recreational Use of Land and Water Areas Act in Illinois was worded in such a way that only included liability protections for a land owner for hunters and recreational shooting. All the wording related to fishing, hiking, conservation and any other activity was removed from the Act.

We can thank trial attorney groups for that.

When I attended Conservation Congress in Springfield, getting the other activities re-worded into the Act was at the top of my list of objectives. I can't say for sure what may have happened to get those protections put back into the wording, but as of today they are once again included. One gentleman I met there all but assured me that he could turn it around if it was that important to us, and we had a meeting scheduled. Unfortunately, he passed away before we could have a serious conversation. 

I can't say for certain that navigability laws hinge upon this particular Act (probably not), but if a land owner still believes that an angler is going to drown on their property, a hiker breaks a leg or a bird watcher falls from a tree while trying to get a closer look.....and they believe they will get sued......then there is little hope we are getting permission, and a great likelihood that they won't change their minds on that. Regardless of the fact that the protections are back in place. 

Hope that makes sense. 

 

It explains why a land owner might not want you on their property, but not the law regarding whether they have a right to.  My recent Googling seems to have cleared that up.  The law really isn't all that vague.

On a navigable stream, if a landowner owns the stream up to the center of the river you only have the right to "navigate thru" not to fish or hunt there. That's a new one on me.

On a non-navigable stream you do not have the "navigate thru" right.  So basically you have no right to be there. at all. The links I posted do not say that.  I think they infer it.

 

 

 

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I also remember something about being able to recreate up to the high water mark on navigable waters. Also, isn't the vicinity around bridge pilings considered to be owned by a state agency on any stream? Such as IDOT?

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Ran across this today.

It’s all a gray area.....

 

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53 minutes ago, Terry Dodge said:

Ran across this today.

It’s all a gray area.....

 

 

This is Texas, not Illinois.  The law is totally different state to state. In Texas I think you can drive with a beer in one hand and an M16 in the other. Something like that.

 

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33 minutes ago, Mike Clifford said:

I also remember something about being able to recreate up to the high water mark on navigable waters. Also, isn't the vicinity around bridge pilings considered to be owned by a state agency on any stream? Such as IDOT?

I think that is true, but the high water mark thing is if the land owner only up to the bank.  I looked at the GIS for a friends property located on a non navigable tributary of the Kankakee, his property only goes up to the bank.  I remember him saying that people could access the creek up to the high water mark.  So that whole thing about the property line extending straight down the center of the waterway is not occurring everywhere. 

So I was wondering If you put a canoe in a totally legal  spot, say someone gave you permission and you have a spot to legally take it out.  Basically one guy owns one side the other guy owns the other-side straight down the middle of the stream.  No matter what you will be trespassing on someone's property.  I am guessing yes.  But does someone have to file a complaint?   If you get a ticket how does the cop have any idea who's property it is? 

If a cop rolled up on you out of the blue, with nothing out of the ordinary other tha  he knows you are not on public land, can he write you a ticket?  (the cop I talked to sounded like he would)

If you we to say, Oh yeah. I know Jim Bob he is okay with me to be here.  How would he know you weren't lying. 

So both the Depaul and Amercan White Water links say:

Criminal trespass on private land is a class B misdemeanor (the cop I talked to said you could be charged with a felony) and occurs where notice has been given indicating that entry is forbidden.12)

So is that the wrinkle? You have to be given notice either by a sign or otherwise?

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I was handing out permission cards to people at various ISA events some years ago. Had landowner info and everything. Not sure if they were IDNR issued though. I will look and see if I still have any laying around.

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As for trespassing, yes the law is that there needs to be a sign stating such, which can be at the main entrance or basically anywhere. Or.....if you are told to leave and do not.

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I know the video is Texas but it the same thing. Nobody really knows anything for sure and nobody is ever going to know anything for sure. Just because a river is not on the states navigable waterways list does not necessarily mean it’s a non-navigable waterway, such as the Kishwaukee is by means of Winnebago County. There is a land owner on the Kish that yells at canoes/kayaks as they pass his property and I have even heard of land owners in Boone County that still run barb wire across the Kish, which I guess in Boone they have the right to do that. I also learned while working with the IDNR that accessing a stream from a bridge does not make it okay to work the waters up or down stream of such bridge, you still need so called permission. It’s all too gray and nobody will ever give you a straight up answer.

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Some years ago I did a guerilla paddle on the Apple river, When I got to my take out a conservation officer was there to greet me. The end result was pretty much the same as that video. He agreed that the law was ambiguous and said as long as I wasn't hunting [ it was turkey season ] he wouldnt do anything. Actually he was a pretty cool guy about the whole thing.

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