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I did some fishing in the Olentangy River today. The smallies were hit and miss. I would go for 5 or 10 minutes with a hit on nearly every cast, and then nothing for 30 minutes. It was good to be out. However, towards the end of the day I noticed some no trespassing signs on trees along the banks of the river near where I had entered. I entered alongside a bridge, so I'm pretty sure that I was okay there. What is the law in Ohio on public use of navigable waterways? I know that I can't fish off the banks on private property w/o permission, but what about wading?
 

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One thing that i have heard is that no property line extends to the water. At Hoover property lines stop I believe 10 ft from the shore line. My friend's parents have a house that backs up to it, and columbus workers marked the property lines, but at their house the property line is twenty feet from shore. The shorline there is Columbus city property, that is why to have a dock you have to pay the city to use the land. That may be because surrounding Hoover is a nature preserve. I would think though that that same rule would apply to state scenic rivers as well, since they are protected. I do not know 100% if that is accurate myself, i have not had the chance to check into it. But i am pretty sure that property owners cannot own the shorline. Many people will put up signs to deter others, even when they don't have the right. I hope that helps some.
 

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But i am pretty sure that property owners cannot own the shorline.

Ohio sucks, they can...


If you were fishing up north on the Olentangy there is a good chance you were indeed Trespassing...And the homeowners up there are ruthless: The bastards are trying to block the state from labeling that strech of the Olentangy a State Scenic river...There complaint? It will draw more people into there back yard. And ruin the peace and tranquility the've afforded for so many years. Which may turn out to be true, but that's no excuse to bar public knowledge about a beautiful strech of river...And IMO they have absolutely no right to do so! (yes..they are taking it to court!!)

Here are some really, really good threads on the trespassing issue, in summary if the propertly line does not extend to the shoreline (which is often the case inside Columbus city limits). Then they do not own the river nor the bankline, if there property line does extend to the shoreline they own 1/2 the river, if it extends to the other side they own the whole river. Inside the COC you will find that most property owners do not own the rivers/streams, Outside the COC almost all of the rivers/streams are privately owned.

Trespassing: Property must be labled by sinage/fences/flags in order for you to be guilty/charged with trespassing. If you start fishing on public property (in this case below a bridge) and then continue to go north/south you can continue as long as you want untill you run into a "No Trespassing" sign or a fence etc. If you are not notified you are NOT trespassing you can continue as long as you please: But keep in mind you are likely on someone else's property, and there's a good chance that both they and the police don't know the law and you will be arrested.

http://www.ohiogamefishing.com/community/showthread.php?t=42261&highlight=trespassing

http://www.ohiogamefishing.com/community/showthread.php?t=53126&highlight=trespassing
 

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Ohio has Riparian(sp?) water rights, this has been talked about a bunch and it still sucks... The Law is very vague, but landowners hold most of the cards, mostly you can float in the river/stream, but fishing is trespassing, you are allowed to portage river obstructions, riffles, blowdowns, sandbars but even fishing topwater is wrong, they own the stream bottom in most places.... here is a document with all the stuff, it was a pdf file, had to make it text to put here, looks bad.

Guide No. 02
OHIO
“Who Owns Ohio's Streams?”
OHIO
“Who Owns Ohio's Streams?”
Over the years, Ohio citizens have frequently contacted
the Department of Natural Resources seeking
assistance in the resolution of problems they have encountered
related to water resources. Many of the
questions posed have concerned the authorities and
duties of government, as well as the rights and responsibilities
of individuals, with regard to surface water.
This fact sheet poses some of the more frequently-
asked questions, and provides the responses which
have been passed along. It is intended to assist the
lay person in understanding the basic legal concepts
involved with some of Ohio’s more common water
rights issues. A more comprehensive analysis can be
obtained through review of the references cited, which
is strongly recommended. For those persons involved
in water rights conflicts, this fact sheet is intended as
a prelude to consultation with an attorney, not as a
substitute for it.

Who owns Ohio’s streams? Ohio’s Constitution
does not address this question, nor has there been
a statute enacted in Ohio to address it. So the answer
must be derived from the common law.

What is “the common law”? The common
law, in this context, is the system of law initially developed
in England by the higher courts and stated in
the written opinions of these courts based on general
customs or on reason and fixed principles of justice.1&2
English common law had been adopted in the American
colonies prior to the Revolutionary War, and those
parts of it that were consistent with the Constitution of
the United States were retained. Since then, opinions
of federal and state courts in this country have
modified, refined, and added to the common law of
the United States and the State of Ohio.

What if the federal or state government
passes a law that contradicts the common
law? This type of law, called a statute, overrides the
common law. Common law is used by the courts to
interpret statutes and to determine the outcome of
cases in which statutes are not controlling.

Are there situations not addressed by the
common law? Yes, but because the common law
is founded on the “laws of nature and the dictates of
reason”, even in the absence of a precedent it is adapt


able to new situations and circumstances.1&2 A precedent
is a past decision of a higher court (an appeals
court or supreme court) which serves as an example
for other courts to follow in similar cases. In situations
where there is no clear precedent to follow, it is
difficult to predict how the common law may be adapted
or modified. Even in situations where there is a clear
precedent, it still may be modified or reversed by a
new court decision and a new precedent established.
Significant changes to the common law, which normally
are the result of Ohio or U.S. Supreme Court
decisions, occur due to changing circumstances, an
expanding knowledge base, and changing attitudes
in society and in the courts.

So what does the common law say about
who owns Ohio’s streams? There are two components
to a stream, the water flowing in it and the
land beneath the water. The nature of flowing water
makes it impossible for a landowner to exercise the
kind of control over it that is essential for it to be considered
private property. Despite a landowner’s efforts
to retain it, the water will inevitably seep into the
ground or evaporate into the air or flow downhill onto
the next property. Water is a “public good” and not
ownable as private property. Landowners do have
rights to make use of the water flowing through their
property including the right to withdraw it and otherwise
control it to the extent that nature permits, so
long as the rights of others are not infringed upon.3
Such rights are known as “riparian rights”, meaning
they are derived through the ownership of streamside
property.

As to who owns the land beneath a stream, under
Ohio common law the owner of the land beside
the stream also owns the land beneath it. If the land
on each side is owned by two different owners, then
each owns to the center of the stream unless otherwise
specified by the landowners’ deeds. On navigable
streams there is a public right of navigation,
spelled out originally in the Northwest Ordinance,
which states that navigable waters shall be common
highways, forever free to the people of the United
States. On such streams, boaters have the right to
navigate on the stream, regardless of who owns the
land beside it. Because of this, some have claimed
that the owners of land beside a navigable stream do
not own the land beneath it. But Ohio courts have


long held that the owners of the land on the banks of a
navigable stream are also owners of the beds to the
middle of the stream, as in the common law.4 One
exception is the submerged land beneath the Ohio
portion of Lake Erie, which is owned and held in trust
for the public by the State of Ohio.

Does a landowner who owns the land on
both sides of a stream (and, therefore, beneath
the stream as well) have the right to construct
a dam across it? There are no constitutional provisions
and, in most instances, no statutes that address
this type of action. Under the common law, dam construction
is allowed so long as it doesn’t infringe on
the rights of others. If a dam is constructed so that
the water retained behind it backs up onto an upstream
landowner’s property and causes harm, the dam owner
may be held liable in court for an unreasonable interference
with the flow of surface water.5 If the dam
curtails the flow of water downstream and prevents
reasonable uses by downstream property owners, the
dam owner may also be held liable in court. If the
dam collapses during a normal flood and causes harm
to downstream landowners, the dam owner may likewise
be held liable.6 On navigable streams, the construction
of a dam may interfere with the public’s right
to navigate the stream. This could result in a court
decision disallowing a dam because it is an impediment
to the public’s right of navigation.7

There are also both state and federal statutes which
are, in some instances, relevant to construction of a
dam. Depending on the size of the dam and the
amount of water it would retain, it may fall under the
jurisdiction of Ohio’s dam safety statute which requires
a construction permit from the Ohio Department of
Natural Resources, Division of Water.8 The purpose
of the dam safety program is to require that dams are
designed and constructed according to appropriate
specifications to assure their structural integrity and
the public safety. On a few large rivers in Ohio, construction
of dams and other impediments to navigation
is regulated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
Impediments to navigation on these streams are generally
not permitted.9 Construction of a dam may also
constitute placement of fill into waters of the United
States, which may require a federal permit, also from
the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.10 The federal and
state statutes which are relevant to dam construction
are outlined in Guide 06 Permit Checklist for Stream
Modification Projects.

Whether or not a stream is navigable seems
to affect landowner rights in Ohio. What is a
navigable stream and how can I find out if a
particular stream is navigable? Under Ohio common
law, navigability cannot be determined by a precise
formula which fits every stream under all circumstances
and at all times. This means that the courts
must decide the navigability of streams one at a time,

on a case-by-case basis. Factors provided as guidelines
for the courts include the stream’s capacity for
boating in its natural condition, its capacity for boating
after the making of reasonable improvements and its
accessibility to public destinations.11 A natural temporary
obstruction to navigation, such as a logjam or
sandbar, does not destroy the otherwise navigable nature
of a stream.

Traditionally, a test of navigability has been
whether a stream is used or could be used as a highway
for commerce, over which trade and travel are or
may be conducted in the customary modes of trade
and travel on water. Recently, the definition of navigability
has been broadened to include a stream’s
capacity for recreational navigation as well. The modern
view is that navigation for pleasure and recreation
is as important in the eyes of the law as navigation for
commercial purposes.12 At any rate, under Ohio common
law it is not possible to know with certainty
whether or not a specific stream is subject to the
public’s right of navigation until a court has made such
a determination.

Navigability is also defined in different ways by
several federal and state statutes based upon the regulatory
jurisdictions of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
These definitions are relevant only within the context
of the statutes in which they appear. More information
about these statutes and their applicability can be
found in Guide 06 Permit Checklist for Stream Modification
Projects. Fact sheets explaining Section 404
permits and Section 401 water quality certifications
are available from the Ohio Environmental Protection
Agency by calling (614) 644-2001.13

Do landowners along a stream have the
right to improve drainage on their land and
route the drainage outlets into the stream?
Again, there are no constitutional provisions or statutes
which address this concern. Under the common
law in Ohio, landowners have the right to make a reasonable
use of their land, even though altering the
flow of surface water may cause harm to others. Landowners
incur liability only when their harmful interference
with the flow of surface water is unreasonable.14

But if the outlet is a “natural watercourse,”
aren’t property owners allowed to discharge
drainage water into it even if it does cause
damage downstream? Yes, but only if their actions
are reasonable. Historically, the courts in Ohio
maintained that upstream landowners could place
surface water above and beyond the natural flow into
natural watercourses without being liable to downstream
owners.15 However, more recent court decisions
have applied a “reasonable use” rule instead.
Under this rule, landowners are neither permitted to
dispose of surface water any way they wish nor are
they prohibited from interfering with the natural flow of


surface water to the detriment of others. Landowners
are liable for damages caused by their interference
with the natural flow of surface water only when their
actions are “unreasonable”.14

Who determines when the harmful interference
with the flow of surface water is unreasonable?
The reasonability of an alteration of the
flow of surface water is decided by the courts on a
case-by-case basis. A landowner along a stream who
believes he or she has been harmed by another
streamside landowner’s actions must seek relief
through court action. The court determines whether
or not the harm is significant and material, whether it
is unreasonable, and what the appropriate remedy
should be. If the court determines that the harm is
significant and material and that it is unreasonable, it
may require that the action causing the harm be discontinued
by granting an injunction against it. The
court may also allow the action causing the harm to
continue, but specify that compensation for damages
be paid.

If a drainage improvement diverts water into
a stream from land that does not naturally
drain into that stream, isn’t that illegal? Not
necessarily. Historically, when the courts in Ohio allowed
upstream landowners to place surface water
above and beyond the natural flow into natural watercourses
without being liable to downstream owners,
one of the conditions was that none of the additional
water could come from outside the watershed.15 However,
since the courts have been applying the reasonable
use rule, the prohibition on diversion may no
longer apply.16 Under the reasonable use rule, such a
diversion may be allowed unless a court determines
that it constitutes a harmful interference with the flow
of surface water that is unreasonable.

It is important to note that a state statute overrides
the common law for diversions of water out of
either the Lake Erie or Ohio River Basins in quantities
greater than 100,000 gallons per day. A permit from
the Ohio Department of Natural Resources is required
for such diversions.17 And under federal statute, diversions
out of the Lake Erie Basin, regardless of quantity,
must have the approval of all the Great Lakes
States’ Governors.18

Who is responsible for clearing natural obstructions,
such as logjams and sandbars,
from streams to keep them free flowing? It is
not clear than anyone has such a responsibility. Governmental
entities at the municipal, county, state, and
federal levels have the statutory authority to undertake
stream clearing and drainage improvement
projects, but no governmental entity at any level has
been assigned by statute the responsibility for such
activities. The common law also does not specify that
property owners must keep the streams flowing
through their property clear of natural obstructions.

Natural obstructions in a stream on one property may
cause harm to upstream property owners by reducing
the stream’s capacity for conveying runoff, resulting
in flooding or reducing the effectiveness of artificial
drainage systems. If these problems were caused by
a landowner’s actions, such as the construction of a
dam across the stream, this harm would be actionable
in court. It is unclear whether or not a landowner’s
inaction in failing to remove natural obstructions from
the stream is similarly actionable.

On watercourses where drainage improvements
have been made under authority of County Ditch19 statutes,
there are requirements for maintenance that may
include removal of logjams, sandbars, and other natural
obstructions. A county ditch project doesn’t change
a streamside landowner’s basic rights to the use of
the watercourse and, in fact, improves its capacity for
carrying away excess water. The county (or a joint
county board for multi-county drainage projects) retains
a maintenance easement along the stream, and
is required by the statute to maintain the original drainage
project.20 Landowners pay an annual maintenance
assessment for these services. There are similar
maintenance provisions on streams where water management
improvement projects have been undertaken
by one of Ohio’s Conservancy Districts.21

Municipal governments also have the authority
to undertake stream clearing and drainage improvement
projects, and some cities and villages have enacted
ordinances requiring that streams be maintained
in their free-flowing states within the municipal boundaries.


The statutory authorities available for removing
obstructions are discussed in Guide 04, A Catalog of
Contacts for Stream Topics. The Ohio Department of
Natural Resources recommends that, before an obstruction
removal project is begun, consultation be
made with the applicable local, state, and federal agencies
listed in Guide 06, Permit Checklist for Stream
Modification Projects. The extent of permit requirements
will depend on the location and design of the
particular project.

REFERENCES:

1
H.C. Black, 1968, Black’s Law Dictionary, Definitions
of Terms and Phrases of American and English Jurisprudence,
Ancient and Modern, Revised Fourth Edition,
edited by the publisher’s editorial staff, West Publishing
Company, St. Paul, Minnesota.

2
P.B. Gove, editor in chief, 1966, Webster’s Third New
International Dictionary of the English Language Unabridged,
G.&C. Merriam Company, Springfield, Massachusetts.


3
3 Kent Comm. 439 (3d, 1836); VI-A Amer. L. of Prop.
§ 28.55 (1954); Cooper v. Williams, (1831), 4 Ohio St.


253, 287; Salem Iron Co. v. Hyland, (1906), 74 Ohio 12 Mentor Harbor Yachting Club v. Mentor Lagoons,
St. 160, 165. An excellent discussion on this topic (1959), 170 Ohio St. 193.
and on water rights generally can be found in:
Callahan, C.C. & J.R. Hanson, 1979, Principles of 13 Section 404 Permits and Section 401 Water Quality
Water Rights Law in Ohio, 2nd edition, Ohio De-Certifications, Ohio Environmental Protection Agency
partment of Natural Resources, Division of Water, fact sheets.
Columbus, Ohio. Additional information specific to
water withdrawal rights can be found in: Hanson, 14 McGlashan v. Spade Rockledge Corp., (1980), 62
J.R., A.F. Woldorf, & L.P. Black, 1991, Water Ohio St. 2d 55. See also: Myotte v. Mayfield, (1977),
Rights—An Overview of Ohio Water Withdrawal 54 Ohio App. 2d 97; Chudzinski v. Sylvania, (1976),
Law, 2nd edition, Ohio Department of Natural Re53
Ohio App. 2d 151; Masley v. Lorain, (1976), 48
sources, Division of Water, Columbus, Ohio. Ohio St. 2d 334. An excellent discussion on this and
related topics can be found in: Brown, L.C. and J.L.
4 Gavit v. Chambers, (1828), 3 Ohio St. 496. Stearns, Ohio’s Drainage Laws—An Overview, Bulletin
822, OSU Extension, Columbus, Ohio.
5 Fox v. Fostoria, (1897), 14 OCC 471, rev. on other
grounds, 60 Ohio St. 340; Neff v. Sullivan, 9 OD 15 Munn v. Horvitz, (1964), 175 Ohio St. 521.
Repr. 765.
16 Joseph, v. Wyss, (1991), 72 Ohio App. 3d 199.
6 East Liverpool City Ice Company v. Mattern, (1920),
101 Ohio St. 62. 17 Ohio Revised Code, §1501.32.

7
State ex rel. Brown v. Newport Concrete Company, 18 Federal Water Resources Development Act of 1986,
(1975), 44 Ohio App. 2d 121. Section 1109.

8 Ohio Revised Code, § 1521.06. 19 Ohio Revised Code, Chapters 6131, 6133, 6135, and
6137.
9 Federal River and Harbor Act of 1899, Section 10.
20 The maintenance requirement applies only to county
10 Federal Water Pollution Control Act Amendments ditch projects done after 1957.
of 1972, Section 404.
21 Ohio Revised Code, Chapter 6101.
11 Coleman v. Schaeffer, (1955), 163 Ohio St. 202.

~


This Guide is one of a series of Ohio Stream Management
Guides covering a variety of watershed and
stream management issues and methods of addressing
stream related problems. All Guides, including an

Prepared by the Ohio Department of Natu-
Index of Titles, are available from the Ohio Depart-ral Resources, Leonard P. Black, Division of
ment of Natural Resources. To obtain copies contact Water, principal author. Input from staff of sevthe
ODNR Public Information Center at: eral ODNR divisions and other local, state and
1952 Belcher Drive Building. C-1

federal agencies is used in the development of
the Ohio Stream Management Guides. Funding

Columbus, Ohio 43224-1386

for the production of the Ohio Stream Manage


614/265-6791

ment Guides is provided in part through a federal
grant under section 319 of the Clean Water
The guides are also available on-line as web pages Act. This Ohio Stream Management Guide is
and PDF files so you may print high quality orignals at not intended to function as advice on legal is-
your location. You will find the guides on-line at: sues. Please contact an attorney if legal advice

is required..

http://www.dnr.state.oh.us/odnr/water/pubs/

Guides are available on-line at:

onlnpubs.html.

http://www.dnr.state.oh.us/odnr/water/pubs/
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Sounds like the question has already been answered but here is a link to Delaware County's GIS which will show you property lines. To confirm what everyone has previously stated it appears that ownership extends to the middle of the river.

Delaware County GIS
 

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Private property does not have to be posted for you to be prosecuted !! Since you need written permission for any activity, it excludes the need to post ; that was considered mandatory in the past. It is your responsibility to know boundary lines & you may well be prosecuted for tresspassing even if it is not posted.
Tim
 

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Mad SOT YAKER!
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Thanks mickey, and I agree with t-180, I was told by ODNR when I was researching this a few years back that you are more likely to be ticketed when posted, but they can and will ticket you when it is not, but they don't normally ticket you if there has not been a complaint.
 

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Thanks mickey, and I agree with t-180, I was told by ODNR when I was researching this a few years back that you are more likely to be ticketed when posted, but they can and will ticket you when it is not, but they don't normally ticket you if there has not been a complaint.
Private property does not have to be posted for you to be prosecuted !! Since you need written permission for any activity, it excludes the need to post ; that was considered mandatory in the past. It is your responsibility to know boundary lines & you may well be prosecuted for tresspassing even if it is not posted.
Tim
Here we go again..LOL
 

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(available @ http://onlinedocs.andersonpublishin...n-h.htm&cp=PORC)

§ 2911.21. Criminal trespass.

(A) No person, without privilege to do so, shall do any of the following:

(1) Knowingly enter or remain on the land or premises of another;

(2) Knowingly enter or remain on the land or premises of another, the use of which is lawfully restricted to certain persons, purposes, modes, or hours, when the offender knows the offender is in violation of any such restriction or is reckless in that regard;

(3) Recklessly enter or remain on the land or premises of another, ]as to which notice against unauthorized access or presence is given by actual communication to the offender, or in a manner prescribed by law, or by posting in a manner reasonably calculated to come to the attention of potential intruders, or by fencing or other enclosure manifestly designed to restrict access;
(4) Being on the land or premises of another, negligently fail or refuse to leave upon being notified by signage posted in a conspicuous place or otherwise being notified to do so by the owner or occupant, or the agent or servant of either. It is no defense to a charge under this section that the land or premises involved was owned, controlled, or in custody of a public agency.
(C) It is no defense to a charge under this section that the offender was authorized to enter or remain on the land or premises involved, when such authorization was secured by deception.
(D) Whoever violates this section is guilty of criminal trespass, a misdemeanor of the fourth degree.
(E) As used in this section, "land or premises" includes any land, building, structure, or place belonging to, controlled by, or in custody of another, and any separate enclosure or room, or portion thereof.
 

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Excerpt from the "Private Property" thread

First of all I'll say that while I am a lawyer, this opininion is just that, a legal opinion that will not necessarily prevent a trespassing charge being issued to the person trespassing. This is intended to be a relatively short and sweet overview of the several areas of the law encompassing the questions in this thread.......................................................................................................................................................................................................

Third - Tresspassing - the Ohio Revised Code Section cited below is the proper section to examine. In Ohio there is an actual knowledge requrement to the charge of tresspass which means that you must know that you are trespassing before you can successfully be prosecuted for the crime. Notice can be actual or constructive, that is to say that the warning to stay out can come from the owner of the property or a sign. In some jurisdictions if you see a sing and do not leave, you are tresspassing.

I hope this helps

FWF
Legal counsel says you have to know, the law says you have to know....Im pretty sure you have to know your are trespassing before you can be charged with trespassing...:D. The only exception is if you are hunting.
 

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i hate private property threads, they go forever :) i just about gave up wading as much as i liked it anyways, just because of all the ifs ands & buts!
 

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Ok...well thats alot of reading and some of it's hard to follow. I have a specific question. On the Scioto, the 2nd home north of the Hayden Rd Bridge on the west bank of the river has a huge sign outback that says "No Anchoring." Can one actually be fined for anchoring their boat in the middle of the river behind this person's home? A boat anchored in front of your home while fishing for a couple hours is far less of an eye-sore than this huge white "No Anchoring" sign. Perhaps there should be some legislation over massive signs being posted on the river bank.

I'm orginally from Maryland, I grew up boating on the Chesapeake Bay and it's tributaries. I could never imagine a landowner being able to tell me where I could/could not anchor my boat on a temporary basis. (Permanent mooring would be a different story, of course.) If this is the case here in Ohio...that's unbelievably ridiculous!!

I just had another thought...given the proximity of the sign to the bridge, I guess this could be marking a specified area on either side of the bridge where it is not safe to anchor....if this is the case....I feel kinda dumb now.
 

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Crupi Wannabe
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I'm pretty sure there is some kind of underwater gas line running through that spot by Hayden - thus the no anchoring sign...I believe it is a safety/environmental reason, not the homeowners.

Ok...well thats alot of reading and some of it's hard to follow. I have a specific question. On the Scioto, the 2nd home north of the Hayden Rd Bridge on the west bank of the river has a huge sign outback that says "No Anchoring." Can one actually be fined for anchoring their boat in the middle of the river behind this person's home? A boat anchored in front of your home while fishing for a couple hours is far less of an eye-sore than this huge white "No Anchoring" sign. Perhaps there should be some legislation over massive signs being posted on the river bank.

I'm orginally from Maryland, I grew up boating on the Chesapeake Bay and it's tributaries. I could never imagine a landowner being able to tell me where I could/could not anchor my boat on a temporary basis. (Permanent mooring would be a different story, of course.) If this is the case here in Ohio...that's unbelievably ridiculous!!

I just had another thought...given the proximity of the sign to the bridge, I guess this could be marking a specified area on either side of the bridge where it is not safe to anchor....if this is the case....I feel kinda dumb now.
 

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Mad SOT YAKER!
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Its hard to follow that lawyer speak I know, why would the government make it simple to read and follow, that would be just silly....
 
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