|If you think access to your favorite put-in or take-out is guaranteed forever, you had better reconsider. Private and public access areas across the United States that paddlers assumed would always be available are in danger of being shut down or restricted.
Visit www.americanwhitewater.org to find out more.
Jason Robertson, access director for American Whitewater, says the reasons aren't complex. "It's simply a matter of people not wanting an activity in their backyard." Since Americans enjoy thinking they're king of all they survey, "there's an idea in our culture that if we own it, and see it, we control all of it."
Rivers are public highways as much as airspace and the interstate you use for traveling to work or play. "We have a public right to recreate on the river," says Robertson, "just as we have a right to use a sidewalk."
Public agencies are often equally restrictive in granting access. "It's rare that they can make an argument that will meet the other responsibilities of government, which are commerce and navigation," says Robertson. Recreational river use by private boaters or commercial outfitters like raft companies or fly-fishing guides has been upheld by federal and state courts to constitute commerce.
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