Thursday, October 11, 2018

Judge's Ruling That Land Under Non-Navigable Waterway Belongs to Property Owner

There is a great degree of misunderstanding where streams are concerned. I post this Signed Judge's Order regarding Whites Creek hoping that sensible people will understand the nature of private property. The short version:

  Private property is private property even if water is flowing over it.   

The effect of this Tennessee state law is to protect property owners, even as it allows floating recreation on our streams. 

Let's say a kayaker puts in at a public access point on a waterway. The water belongs to the state of Tennessee and as long as the kayaker is floating in the water, all is well. This allows whitewater recreation during high water and protects landowner privacy during other times. 

On creeks where county roads cross at bridges, paddlers have the right to put in the water and paddle the waterways. They do not have the right to get on the private land along the bank or even technically rocks or islands in the stream without landowner permission, but as long as no trace is left and no harm done, most landowners are quite permissive and it's no big deal. A paddler can legally put in at Possum Trot bridge and paddle Whites Creek to Highway 27 and take out there. Hundreds of paddlers do so every year. 

Once the water gets too low to paddle, it is trespassing under Tennessee law to wade or walk upstream or downstream without the permission of the landowner who owns the land under the water. Here's the ruling that acknowledges this fact of law. I hope this clears up some misconceptions and keeps folks from needlessly getting in trouble. Simply put, You must ask permission and you must take "no" for an answer if that's what you get. Most landowners are reasonable. None of them like to be taken advantage of.

To: patrol supervisor's >

Just so that everyone is aware, Old Stage Road that runs off of Black
Creek Road is private property owned by Steve Scarborough. His
address is 680 Black Creek Road Rockwood. There is a Court Order
stating this property is not public property and is privately owned by
Scarborough. There is also an order in place designating the actual
Whites Creek as non navigational, meaning that someone cannot walk up
the creek across this private property.

Roane County Sheriff's Office
230 N. Third St.
Kingston, TN 37763
Office: (865) 717-4700
Fax: (865) 717-4766