Become A Member
Learn how your membership helps protect our rivers and rights of use.
Learn More About River Law
Frequently Asked Questions »
FAQs about federal law regarding public ownership, use, and conservation of rivers
Why River Rights? »
NOR is the organization that focuses on achieving public-trust ownership of rivers, conserving rivers through public-trust ownership, and ensuring the public's legal rights to enjoy rivers
Why you should get
"Public Rights on Rivers"
Why the book was written
Since the 1970s, your rights to enjoy rivers have been severely reduced. This situation is all the more deplorable because public rights on rivers have been repeatedly confirmed by the highest court in the nation, the U.S. Supreme Court. Nevertheless, public rights are routinely ignored, disregarded, and denied, on thousands of miles of rivers, by landowners, local law enforcement personnel, and state and federal government agencies.
Why the book is the solution
Public Rights on Rivers is the answer. It tells you, other rivers users, the media, and government agencies, why you have clear and undeniable rights to canoe, kayak, raft, fish, fowl, and walk along the banks of rivers, in every state.
Even if you only look at the pictures and captions in this book, it will take your understanding of river recreation, and your legal rights on rivers, to a whole new level. After skimming through the pictures, you will want to read at least some of the sections. They are written to be readily understandable. They explain complex legal concepts in straightforward ways. When you are ready for the whole story, the footnotes cite the numerous U.S. Supreme Court decisions that confirm your rights on rivers nationwide. You will find that even the footnotes contain bold mini-headlines, so you can easily see what each footnote demonstrates. The footnotes themselves are written so that you can readily follow them.
How YOU make a difference by getting the book
However, there is another important dimension to this book. When you get this book for your own edification, you also enable NOR to educate the media and the government about these same issues. NOR is ready to send more press releases about public rights on rivers to newspapers, radio, and television stations across the nation. NOR is ready to contact local, state and federal government agencies with the public rights message, including county sheriffs, district attorneys, state attorney generals, state fish and game departments, the National Park Service, the U.S. Forest Service, the Bureau of Land Management, and other agencies and law enforcement. When you buy this book, you allow NOR to continue contacting all these places.
Here’s the bad news: These agencies regularly hear from lawyers claiming that canoeing, fishing, and walking along the banks of rivers is trespassing. The solution is to tell them the truth of the matter: Even small rivers with rapids, portages, and obstructions are open to the public under federal law. They won’t get this critical, fundamental message from anywhere else. They won’t get it unless you work together with NOR to give it to them. NOR is a non-government funded non-profit organization, and you are the catalyst for change to happen!
Get the book today! Inform yourself, and inform government agencies and the media about your rights to use rivers. Get the book, and change the world!
What you’ll find in the book
- Chapter One tells you how rivers were used over the centuries, with numerous rare illustrations of river uses in bygone eras. You will enjoy knowing how your ancestors used rivers, and how their uses built the foundation for your legal rights to use rivers today.
- Chapter Two explores the spiritual and legal origins of public rights on rivers. You will discover why rivers are literally beyond private ownership, and why they are perpetually held in trust for the public. You will understand the origins of the legal requirement to keep enough water in rivers for fish, wildlife, and navigation, and conserve the land and vegetation along the banks of rivers.
- Chapter Three answers every government agency’s most basic question: Which rivers are navigable? Many forces in modern society want you to believe that only a few large rivers are legally navigable, and many of the rest are private, depending on current politics in the state and local government. This chapter documents how the U.S. Supreme Court has repeatedly confirmed that small, shallow, rocky rivers, with logjams, rapids, waterfalls, and other obstructions, are legally navigable under federal law, and must remain open to the public, even where the beds and banks of a river are private land under state and local property law.
- Chapter Four covers twelve additional reasons why rivers must remain open to the public, beyond being navigable under federal law. It also explains the legal foundations for your rights to walk along the banks of rivers, and get to and from rivers at frequent public access points. It explains and confirms your rights to fish, fowl, swim, and otherwise use rivers.
- Chapter Five carefully explains the limits of state government authority on the rivers in a particular state, in our dual system of state and federal government. You will hear lawyers and government agency personnel claiming that states can deny public rights on rivers. This chapter is the answer. It turns out that state governments do have authority to manage public uses of the water, fish, and other resources in rivers, but they do not have the authority to deny overall public rights to navigate, fish, fowl, and walk along the banks of the rivers in their state that are physically navigable. You will want to understand why and how this is so.
The bottom line
In the end, by getting Public Rights on Rivers:
1) You will re-establish and greatly expand your own understanding of your rights to use rivers
2) You will re-establish a national understanding about public rights on rivers in every state
Public Rights on Rivers is the FIRST book to fully discuss river uses through the centuries, river law, and public rights on rivers. Read it. Know it. Share it.
Book updates will be available to members regularly. Check to see that you have the most updated version. Last update was: August 2013.
Get your copy today! Become a NOR Member
Or test the waters and Download a free sample
Public Rights on Rivers
Canoeing, kayaking, rafting, fishing, and fowling rights.
River conservation and water rights.
By the National Organization for Rivers
Published August 2013
Last update: August 2013