The Fox River is beautiful, and we recommend that everyone explore it! There are locks and dams built throughout this North-flowing river so its not only important to stay safe out there, but also to know your portaging rights! Portaging is a Liberty protected by Law and here are just a few to be aware of:
1. Wisconsin Constitution: Section IX:
“The navigable waters leading into the Mississippi and St. Lawrence, and the carrying places between the same, shall be common highways and forever free.”
This section of the constitution provides very important groundwork for paddler’s rights in Wisconsin. Essentially, if you want to paddle on a river and you access it from a public location, you are permitted to paddle on it.
2. State Legislation: 30.134 Section (2):
“Members of the public may use any exposed shore area of a stream without the permission of the riparian only if it is necessary to exit the body of water to bypass an obstruction.”
This law explains your rights to portage around an obstruction – as long as you stay near the water and take the shortest route, you are permitted to portage around natural and man made obstructions on the water.
3. State Legislation: NR 330:
This entire chapter outlines requirements for a dam to have a clearly marked portaging route for paddlers to use. If a dam is built on a river, the owner of the dam is required to build a marked portage route to provide paddlers with a route around the obstruction. On the Fox River, these portaging routes are usually on the side of the lock so as to provide a safer and shorter portage.
These are only a few of the many laws protecting paddlers. Stay safe & confident out there! Adventure awaits!!