Legal Insight. Business Instinct.

A River Runs Through It (The Farm)

Rivers and streams cross many farms and ranches in Eastern Idaho. These rivers and streams are accessible in many instances by the public, including hunters and fisherman.

Idaho law allows a recreational easement to the public to access any river or stream that is “navigable.” This means that any stream which, in its natural state, during normal high water, will float cut timber having a diameter in excess of six inches, or is which is capable of being navigated by small boats, canoes, or kayaks, is “navigable.” The public may float, boat, walk, or swim down any river or stream that meets the navigable definition, even if that stream runs right through the middle of the farm.

This recreational easement does not authorize hunters and fisherman to enter on or cross over private land at any point other than within the high water lines of “navigable” streams. However, where irrigation dams or other obstructions interfere with the navigability of a stream the public may get out and portage their canoe, boat or other flotation device around the obstruction. A barb wire fence across a small stream would be an example of an obstruction requiring a portage.

Farmers and ranchers may not prohibit hunters and fisherman from using navigable waterways that crosses the farm or ranch. However, without permission hunters and fisherman have no right to hunt or fish anywhere outside of the high water mark of the navigable waterway, and should be respectful of private property and livestock.

If a river or stream runs through it (your farm), be advised that the law allows the public a recreational easement across your property.

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