Who Owns the Gila Riverbed?
Seek guidance. Consult agency or attorney.
The Upper Gila River Watershed is made up of a patchwork of publicly and privately owned land, in addition to the San Carlos Apache Reservation. In the Arizona portion of the Gila River basin, where only 10% of the land is privately-owned, large areas of the remaining lands are owned and managed by the U.S. Forest Service, the Bureau of Land Management, and the Arizona State Land Department.
If a watercourse was deemed navigable at the time of statehood, then title to the land beneath the river passed to the state, under the Equal Footing Doctrine. The Arizona Navigable Stream Adjudication Commission (ANSAC) determined that the Gila River was not a navigable river when Arizona achieved statehood in 1912. As such, owners of riparian lands adjacent to the watercourse hold the title to the land which makes up the banks and bed of the river. However, while private landowners can own the riverbed, the federal and state governments maintain ownership and regulatory responsibilities for the water in the Gila River.
For more information, related to how ownership of the Gila Riverbed was determined, review ANSAC information here.
Photo credit: Arizona Central
For More Information, Contact:
Gila Valley Irrigation District (GVID) 928.428.4189
Gila Water Commissioner www.gilawater.org 928.428.3220
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