We have an interesting little problem here in Virginia which pits the rights of one group against the rights of another. In Virginia, quite a bit of our land was provided to private owners by Crown Grants from Kings of England in the 1700s back before the United States, was in fact the United States. My own farm was in fact, a Crown Grant from the King, and is traceable in our court house as such. The last farm I sold in Virginia was also. These grants state that the riverbeds of that land are also owned by the landowner. However, Virginia Law generally considers that waterways belong to the Commonwealth of Virginia, although there is a brief reference to the "bottom of the riverbeds belonging to Crown Grant holders".
In Virginia, we have a Constitutional right to hunt and to fish, so this is serious business to a lot of Virginians. Recently, a number of landowners have sued fly fishermen who have stood upon their land and riverbeds.
This is a sticky situation. On the one hand, as a landowner, every time someone hurts themselves on my property, they tend to sue,or try to sue, even if they are here without permission and are trespassing, and so I see the need to restrict access to property. On the other hand, how does a man standing in waders in a river adjacent to my property, who fishes in accordance with the fishing license issued to him by the Commonwealth of Virginia hurt me ?
We need some kind of a revisitation and a meaningful policy under Virginia Law. regarding this matter.
This is more information on this issue:
|The James River in Virginia|