Help secure your “Freedom to Float” on Virginia water!
This coming January, the Virginia State Senate will vote on a bill that hits close to home for any local paddler. The changes that this piece of legislation could bring are incredibly important for the outdoors community — it seeks to improve stream travel in the area and clarify the laws in place for boaters. This is a great opportunity to address some issues that have managed to slip by over over the past several years and to make paddling a more accessible sport.
The bill, SB 629, reads:
That the Code of Virginia is amended by adding a section numbered 29.1-745.1 as follows:
Traveling upon certain waters.
No person shall be liable for civil or criminal trespass for travel upon a nontidal river, stream, or creek with a drainage area of at least seven square miles within the Commonwealth if the travel consists solely of floating in or upon the water in a nonmotorized vessel for purposes of recreation. Nothing in this section shall be construed to change existing ownership rights in real property or to allow travel upon any waters where prohibited by law.
The proposed changes speak to anyone with an interest in our streams. They will open up new travel options for kayakers and canoers, clear up legal confusion, and support outdoor industries. Also, there will be no affect on standing property rights for landowners–the bill would simply allow recreational and nonmotorized water vehicles to float on Virginia water.
There are a number of things that you can do to get your foot in the door.
First, pick up your phone. Give you state State Senator or Delegate a ring to tell them that you want their vote for SB 629, and to remind them how much you value our rivers.
Next, get networking. Take the time to contact any outdoor adventure communities or organizations (like Blueridge Outdoors!) and work together to make a team effort.
Lastly, hype it up. Tell your friends, family, and anyone who appreciates the water around us about your love for the outdoors lifestyle. The goal is to get people talking.
Virginia is close to giving its devoted paddlers and river travelers the “Freedom to Float”. Join in on taking these last crucial steps and become part of the solution.