3 forum posts
Hi, I am Ed.
I moved to Fulks Run VA from Berkeley Springs WV in 2009. I was excited about moving so close to the starting point of the Shenandoah River. I moved in in December and went kayaking in early January. What I learned shocked and angered me at the same time. After kayaking the Shenandoah from Fulks Run to Broadway, upsetting a few times, seeing all the junk vehicles, old tires and oil drums in the water, then having my kayak sucked out from under me on a dam in Broadway, I thought maybe I could help others by cleaning up the river. I started making phone calls, which eventually led me to call Washington DC for clarification of the laws in the state of Virginia.
What I learned is this: The Shenandoah River from its starting point to Timberville VA is “Private Property”. The hand made dams that caused me to capsize are legal. The fences that cross the river are legal and you or I could be arrested for trespassing if caught in or on the water in that area. This area of the river is non-navigational in the dry season, but early spring rains usually makes the water deep enough to travel in boat or kayak.
My goal was not to cause civil disobedience or in any way to step on anyone’s toes, but rather to enjoy the river as many have through the years.
When I called the congressional representative I talked to his secretary, who wrote me off as some kind of quack, I think. Nonetheless, I was patched through to the Congressman. I told him of the things I had learned and the steps I had taken to get a permit to clean up the river. At first, he said, “The State owns the Shenandoah” to which I would agree. However, when I told him about the “Kings Law”, he said “then it is private property”.
Can you imagine, going to jail for trying to do good? My goal was simply to clean it up. Remove the tens of thousands of old tires, the old vehicles submerged or partly submerged in the water and the trash along the banks. I did not get into any trouble, but a scar from my shoulder to my elbow reminds me of the day my kayak was sucked out from under me through the dam in Broadway.
Let this be a reminder that the things we do not know can actually cause us harm. Please remember, if you are a kayaker or fisherman, the river from its starting point to Timberville is private property, and no matter how unsightly it is to some, we have to respect the land owners wishes and stay off of their property, even if it is the Shenandoah River. ej