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NOR began operations by mailing Currents magazine

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NOR distributes its literature to the public, lawyers and government agencies

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To educate the public about public rights on rivers

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Learn More About River Law

River Law Fact Or Fiction »
Does a landowner's property deed include the river

On-River Conflicts »
Conflicts will often arise when you are using rivers in controversy

Why You Need the eBook Public Rights on Rivers »
Public rights are routinely ignored, disregarded, and denied

Frequently Asked Questions »
FAQs about federal law regarding public ownership, use, and conservation of rivers

Why River Rights? »
NOR is the organization that focuses on achieving public-trust ownership of rivers, conserving rivers through public-trust ownership, and ensuring the public's legal rights to enjoy rivers

What does navigable, for title purposes, mean?

Through various court cases, federal courts have articulated the following test, which is known as the federal test of navigability for title purposes:

  • The waterway must be capable of or susceptible to use as a highway for the transportation of people or goods
  • The waterway must be usable for transportation conducted in customary modes of trade and travel on water
  • Waters must be navigable in their natural and ordinary condition
  • Navigability is determined as of the date of statehood

The courts have determined that the use or potential for use by almost any type of watercraft is sufficient to determine this type of navigability. The use did not have to occur at the time of statehood; it is enough that it could have occurred (i.e., susceptibility.) Modern-day usefulness of a river that has not been artificially modified helps prove navigability for purposes of state title, as do historical uses that no longer exist, such as log drives.

Note that this "federal test" is not found in any one Supreme Court document or other government publication; it is just the sum of the relevant passages and phrases in various court decisions. Congress has never passed legislation defining navigability for title purposes, so the court decisions are the applicable law on the subject.

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