Can they legally kick us off the gravel bar?

Okay, so this past weekend we went camping at a creek on a county road. We set up on a gravel bar next to the water about 2:00 pm. We swam all day, played with the dogs and kids and then at 9:30 a county sheriff pulled up and said that the owner of the land called and didn’t want us there. But if we all recalled accurately Missouri waterways are bank to bank, so we were in a gravel bar that is part of the waterway, it just wasn’t under water at that time. They made us pack up at 9:30 at night and leave, even though we were quiet, respectful and just having fun. So my question is are we right seeing as it is a Missouri waterway? They can’t control who swims there and hangs out on the gravel bars, so how can they control us sleeping there? We are in a somewhat small town where the cops are arrogant don’t want to take the time to see which is right. Also, if we do have the right to be there do you know where I can find the information in writing so that the next time we go I will be prepared? Thanks in advance!!
We didnt touch the banks. Like I said we were on the gravel bar.
The creek is not privatly owned, the sheriff said that himself. So we were in the creek seeing as we were on the gravel bar.
Also, the creek is maintaned by the county. They keep on the slab and bridge, culverts and at any time they want to come take rock, they are free to do so without anyones permission. If it were privatly owned they would have to be granted permission to do this. (My husband works for county)

8 Responses to “Can they legally kick us off the gravel bar?”

  1. JB Says:

    Teekno is partially right. The waterway laws in Missouri do not apply to creeks or streams less than 50 ft. in width (at their narrowest point). Waterway laws in Missouri allow for bank access of up to 20 ft. from the edge of the water. They not only apply to the Missouri River, and the Mississippi River, they also apply to the smaller rivers such as the Cuiver River, Meramac River, and Black River.

    The local cops should be up on the waterway and private property laws in their area. Want to check further? Call the Missouri State Water Patrol office in your area.

  2. raprunr Says:

    If you walked on the bank at all you’re trespassing.

  3. Teekno Says:

    A creek is not a waterway.

    Waterways are generally defined as rivers that are navigable. And by navigable, it means rivers capable of carrying commercial traffic. In Missouri, that means rivers like the Missouri and Mississippi. Any other rivers, streams, creeks, etc are subject to private ownership.

  4. golin Says:

    Interests opposed to public ownership of rivers have also tried other arguments to narrow the definition of “commerce” for title navigability purposes. The courts have consistently rejected these “narrow definitions of commerce,” and have instead opted for a broad definition. Outside of the courtroom, the word “commerce” refers to the exchange of goods, but it also refers to traffic of any kind, including communication and social interaction between individuals, as in “the commerce of ideas.” With a broad definition, river “commerce” would include any traffic on a river, including an individual canoeist paddling down a river to admire the scenery. The courts have not supported a narrower definition relating to title navigability.

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