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Fishing rights, river access discussed

Several Pike residents were among those who spoke to the House Study Committee on Fishing Access to Freshwater Resources during a meeting in Gay on Oct. 4. The committee is evaluating the recently passed HR 519 in regards to private property owners’ ability to restrict access versus the public’s right to utilize waterways for recreation. Pike has no public access to the Flint River even though there are more than 25 miles of the river on the county’s western border. One access area was blocked two years ago with a large raised driveway at Flat Shoals. The driveway dead ends into a fence and provides no access to the subdivision. It had been used as an access ramp to the river for generations.

County manager Brandon Rogers was one of the first to address the committee.

“Pike County has had issues when it comes to fishing rights and those tend to get entangled with other issues like trespassing and littering,” he said. “Former president Jimmy Carter floated the river and made comments about how beautiful the river is and how everyone should get a chance to enjoy it. We don’t want to do away with that, but we want to try to find a compromise.”

“The term navigable waterways is such a broad subject and there are many questions such as ‘Can they be fished? Are they private? Are they not private?’ As you go through this hearing you will hear from a few property owners who have had trouble but a vast majority don’t want to lose their fishing rights and traditions that have been handed down for generations and generations,” said Rogers.

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