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Act Now For Virginia Stream Access

Posted: 01/21/2014
by Kevin Colburn

Attention Virginia Paddler!

If you want to help improve the stream access situation in Virginia, here is your chance!  Virginia Senator David W. Marsden (D) has introduced a stream access bill, SB 629, with broad support from the paddling community.  This bill marks an improvement upon last year’s SB737, and better meets the public interest in river enjoyment while addressing concerns of other interests.   

Call or email your Senator if you are a VA resident, and no matter where you live consider reaching out to the Senators on the Committee on Agriculture, Conservation and Natural Resources TODAY.  This bill could see a hearing as soon as Thursday of this week (1/23), so time is of the essence. 

SB 629 provides that no person who is recreationally floating upon certain waters in a nonmotorized vessel shall be liable for civil or criminal trespass, and that existing ownership rights in real property shall remain unchanged.  This would bring much needed clarity to the stream access problem in Virginia. 

Below is a list of the Senators on the Agriculture, Conservation, and Natural Resources Committee, followed by a few general talking/discussion points.  As always the most important thing is to speak from your own interests and point of view about why you would like to be able to float rivers without fearing criminal charges.  

Please make calls and emails ASAP, and voice your support for SB 629! 

Senator Emmett W. Hanger, Jr. ®

(804) 698-7524 (540) 885-6898


Senator John C. Watkins (R)

(804) 698-7510

(804) 379-2063


Senator Phillip P. Puckett (D)

(804) 698-7538

(276) 979-8181


Senator Frank M. Ruff, Jr. (R)

(804) 698-7515

(434) 374-5129


Senator Mark D. Obenshain (R)

(804) 698-7526

(540) 437-1451


Senator A. Donald McEachin (D)

(804) 698-7509

(804) 226-4111


Senator J. Chapman Petersen (D)

(804) 698-7534

(703) 349-3361


Senator Richard H. Stuart (R)

(804) 698-7528

(804) 493-8892


Senator David W. Marsden (D)

**Bill Sponsor**

(804) 698-7537

(571) 249-3037


Senator William M. Stanley, Jr. (R)

(804) 698-7520

(540) 721-6028


Senator Richard H. Black (R)

(804) 698-7513

(703) 406-2951


Senator John C. Miller (D)

(804) 698-7501

(757) 595-1100


Senator Adam P. Ebbin (D)

(804) 698-7530

(571) 384-8957


Senator John A. Cosgrove (R)

(804) 698-7514

(757) 547-3422

If you want to prioritize – Please consider reaching out to Senators Black, Watkins, Stanley, and Puckett.

Topline message: I strongly support having the freedom to float and paddle on Virginia’s streams. Please vote for SB629 to support recreation in Virginia.

Additional Talking Points:

- Virginia is one of the most restrictive states in the U.S. regarding paddler access to streams. This is due to outdated government regulations.

- Paddling in Virginia was virtually unrestricted until 1999. Since then, a small number of landowners have threatened paddlers and blocked access to several Virginia streams. These occurrences have rapidly escalated over the past several years threatening the future of recreational paddling in Virginia.

- Recreational paddling has a large positive impact on local economies. Nationwide outdoor recreation contributions to $646 billion annually to the economy and is responsible for 6.1 million jobs.

- Our state is missing out on economic opportunities from paddling and preventing its citizens from enjoying some of Virginia’s most pristine streams.


Sample script (though personal and unique messages are best):

Hi my name is ___________ and I live in __________. I’m calling to ask that Senator ________ vote for the Freedom to Float, Senate Bill 629, which would decrease restrictions on recreation in Virginia’s waterways. I strongly support having the freedom to float and paddle in Virginia’s streams and urge Senator ______ to support recreation in Virginia by voting for SB629.