Judge Finds for Public on The Little Juniata River

Judge Finds for Public on The Little Juniata River

In a victory for public access advocates, a Pennsylvania judge has ruled that the Little Juniata River is a navigable waterway and open to the public for

In a victory for public access advocates, a Pennsylvania judge has ruled that the Little Juniata River is a navigable waterway and open to the public for fishing and boating. The ruling puts to rest a long-simmering dispute between the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the owners of the Spring Ridge Club, a private, pay-to-play fishing club that claimed ownership to a 1.3-mile-long section of the river.

The conflict arose in 2000 when Donald Beaver, the owner of the Spring Ridge Club, began posting "no trespassing" signs and stringing cables across the river to prevent access to the stretch he claimed was club property. The Pennsylvania departments of environmental protection and conservation however, argued that the Little Juniata was navigable and therefore open to the public. The state agencies, with the support of many local residents and businesses, filed a lawsuit against Beaver to remove the signs and affirm the public's right to use the river. In reaching its decision, the court reviewed records that show trade and navigation on the Little Juniata dated back to the 18th Century and therefore ruled in favor of the plaintiffs.