Public Access: Thank Gideon Gerhardt

February 7, 2010 By: Marshall Cutchin

As Wayne Hooper writes on SeacoastOnline.com, Gideon Gerhardt’s persistent action in the courts in the 1920s defined the law for stream access based on river navigability. But was it a perfect solution? Riparian property rights still rule in most states, and old conflicts between private landowners and anglers echo even today. “Rocks were thrown into pools ahead of the anglers, lunches disappeared from canoes anchored in midstream, cans of bait were filled with water, canoes were swamped if left unattended and guards on horseback rode through pools ahead of anglers to spook the fish.”