LA - Louisiana lawmakers try to balance property rights with public land use

Louisiana officials are looking for ways to promote recreational access to waterways while protecting the rights of property owners and minimizing the costs to state taxpayers of any changes.

It’s a tricky balancing act in a state where property rights are highly valued along with Louisiana’s self-proclaimed status as a “sportsman’s paradise.”

Under Louisiana law, navigable waterways generally are considered public. But due to climate change, rising sea levels and erosion, areas that previously were dry land or marsh are being submerged by water, making them navigable and potentially attractive to recreational use. The result can be “dual-claimed” land or water bottoms, where both a private landowner and the state have legitimate ownership claims.

Landowners in 2018 pushed back against proposed legislation to give fishing boats access to waterways that flow over private land. After voting that bill down, lawmakers created the Public Recreation Access Task Force to study the issue.

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