Water Trails & Paddling
Water Trail Toolkit
Access and Liability
Check out the following documents for a better understanding of this complicated issue:
- The River Basin Center of UGA published information about landowner liability that can be used to fill in private landowners about their responsibility: ‘Questions on Potential Landowner Liability for Recreational Use in Georgia’ Published April 1996 (updated October 2009)
- The Georgia Recreational Use Statute limits a property owners’ liability for recreational users using their land: Georgia Recreational Use Statute
- River Management Society and National Park Service have prepared a good Public Access Guide for Landowners, Water Trails & River Managers
- ‘Understanding Private Property Issues and Working with your Community to Avoid Conflict’
By Dan MacIntyre – Page Perry LLC, Georgia Canoeing Association.
Presented at Georgia River Network’s ‘Water Trails that Work’ workshop, 2012. Dan MacIntyre also unfolded some of the mysteries of ownership and liability at the GRN Weekend for Rivers Conference in 2011.
- Keith Parsons’s Permitting Presentation from Weekend for Rivers can also provide information about what permits you will need to gain access.
- Providing for Public Access to Rivers and Streams at New Bridges –
UGA Law School Environmental Practicum Memorandum by Brian Easley
We Need Your Help to Identify Best Bridge Candidates for Improving Recreational Access at Scheduled Construction/Maintenance Sites
In 2015, the Georgia General Assembly passed legislation changing the state’s gasoline tax to increase the amount of funding available for transportation. This change increased the Georgia Department of Transportation’s budget by approximately 50%. GDOT is using this new money to pursue an expansive slate of transportation projects intended to improve mobility and repair roads and bridges across the state.
One key area of focus will be the replacement of aging bridges. According to the Federal Highway Administration, Georgia has approximately 700 structurally deficient bridges. Many of these bridges need routine maintenance, need to be replaced, or were not designed to accommodate larger vehicles like school buses and tractor trailers. Over the next several years, GDOT will double the amount of money it spends every year maintaining, rebuilding, or replacing bridges.
These bridge projects also provide an opportunity to rethink the public access to the waterbodies these bridges span. Across Georgia, bridges often provide formal or informal recreational access points to rivers, lakes, and streams. In the course of these construction projects across the state, GDOT should consider whether a bridge project could also present an opportunity to improve the public’s recreational access to the water at that location. Although adding a recreational component to these projects may add new challenges (like cost, property ownership, liability, safety, and environmental review), these are not insurmountable obstacles.
We need your help to identify the best candidates for improving recreation access at bridges and your help in supporting these changes. Using maintenance projects as an opportunity to also improve recreational access for the surrounding community is a potential win-win. A list of bridges scheduled for improvement can be found here. If a bridge in your community is slated for improvement in the coming years and you believe that location is a strong candidate for improved recreational access, please contact Gwyneth Moody with Georgia River Network at Gwyneth@garivers.org and/or Brian Gist with the Southern Environmental Law Center at firstname.lastname@example.org.