03-30-2008, 01:06 AM
Re: Snake River Fly Fishing Floats In Jackson Hole
It appears that the law may be a little confusing, but hopefully this will shed some light on the question at hand.
Apparently if a stream is able to support passage of watercraft then the "high water mark" is the rule, if not able to, then it is private, I think......
Website, Rivers of Wyoming:
Who owns the rivers in Wyoming?
Answers to frequently-asked questions about river law in Wyoming,
regarding river ownership, use, access, and conservation.
Question: I have been told by one source that rivers in Wyoming follow the "High Water mark" law. And other sources have lead to make me feel the opposite (i.e. the river bank and bed are private property). I am particularly interested in the North Platte River below Grey's Reef.
NORS: The key question is whether the river is "navigable for title purposes" under federal law. Our impression is that the North Platte is indeed navigable for title purposes, because it is useable by a variety of small craft throughout the spring and summer. (Correct us if we are mistaken.) Therefore, it is held in trust for the public by the state, and is public land up to the ordinary high water line. The ordinary high water line is the actual mark you see on the ground, the line between ground that has been covered during "ordinary high water" (not during extreme flooding) and the land that has not, as distinguished by the effects the water has had on the sand, gravel, soil, and vegetation. Wyoming state law, last we checked, was supportive of this. State law can modify the management of these public-trust lands along rivers, but it cannot give them away to adjacent landowners, or deny all public use of them. (To do so would be a violation of the Public Trust Doctrine, a body of relevant federal case law.) Any ambiguities in Wyoming law should not be interpreted so as to narrow the definition of rivers that are navigable for title purposes--that is a matter of federal law, not state law.
"Whoever said happiness comes with sunshine, has never known a Steelhead fisherman who prays for Fall rains."