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How to Not Piss Off Riverside Landowners

When paddlers, floaters, fishermen and women, and other river lovers spend time on rivers, we inevitably interact with riverside landowners. Those interactions range from friendly to strained. The law about what’s public access and what isn’t is unclear on many rivers in the US. But doing these things will help

At the end of the day, we all have something in common: we love the river.

You’re Not Mario Andretti
The biggest complaint from riverside landowners, according to American Whitewater, is kayakers driving too fast while running shuttle. River roads are twisty. Regardless of how eager you are to get to the river, the pedal-to-the-metal approach is dumb when someone’s likely walking their dog or getting their mail.

Signs of the Times
When someone puts up a “no trespassing” sign, they mean it. On many rivers, there’s a public easement for use below the high-water mark. But sometimes it’s contested. But No Trespassing signs above the high water mark are legit, and you’re inviting conflict if you ignore them.

Nobody Wants to Watch You Pee
When you’re running a river, you’ll inevitably need to stop for a bladder break. Don’t take your break in front of someone’s window. Walk the extra twenty feet to get out of sight.

Don’t Change Clothes in Public
Kayakers are notorious for changing out of wet clothes wrapped in towels in parking lots. It’s acceptable in the paddling subculture (mostly), but it’s not what locals want to see. Don’t make them see what they don’t want to.

Don’t Park Like A Doofus
Parking gets tight at riverside parks and along narrow roads, and can also causes conflict. It even sparked a bill in the Washington legislature this year. Drop off your group and then find a sensible place to park instead of blocking part of the road. And if your quest for parking leads you into local neighborhoods, spread it around, so you’re not jamming up the one street closest to the river.

Don’t Leave Garbage
I really don’t need to say this, do I?

Talk To Them
All too often, landowners and river users’ relationships never get past quick nod. Start a conversation, and see where it goes—a friendly chat can go a long ways to helping relationships. At the very least, wave.

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