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Abstract

This article surveys the contemporary status of Washington's navigability doctrine and public trust laws and proposes a solution to the increased conflicts between riparian property owners and recreational river users. Part II addresses the federal navigability jurisprudence that establishes the minimum standards for determining whether a river is navigable. Part III surveys the law of navigability and the public trust doctrine in Washington. Part IV highlights the importance of recreation to Washington residents. Part V analyzes how other jurisdictions, particularly Montana, have resolved conflicts between recreationalists and riparian property owners. Part VI argues that Washington should adopt a recreational boat test to determine a river's navigability and demonstrates that riparian landowners will not be exposed to increased liability if Washington adopts such a test. Part VII concludes by discussing the likely implications for landowners and recreationalists if Washington adopts a modem stream access law based on a recreational boat test.