Broadview Heights, OH asked in Criminal Law, Real Estate Law and Admiralty / Maritime for Ohio

Q: How do I ask an Ohio court to determine if a water way is or is not "navigable"?

It is my understanding that you are allowed recreationally use (kayak) navigable water ways in Ohio so long as you don't trespass on private land. I have legal access to a stream deep enough for kayaks, if I can get a court to answer if the stream is a "navigable" water way I will know if I am permitted to kayak through segments that are surrounded by private land or not.

I just don't know how to go about asking a court to make this determination. The executive branch, in this case the Ohio Department of natural resources, literature indicates this is a question for the courts. In my case I just want to get a determination on this question for a specific stream so that I my rights prior to potentially getting in trouble for trespassing.

1 Lawyer Answer
Joseph Jaap
Joseph Jaap
  • Cincinnati, OH
  • Licensed in Ohio

A: You possibly could file an action for a "declaratory judgment" with a court. There might be different definitions of "navigable waters of the US" that have been determined in different court rulings applying EPA and other federal and state laws and regulations. A definition in one court decision might conflict with a definition in a different court decision. Get am OH watercraft license and talk to ODNR if the answer is not on its web site:

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