Elochoman landowners seek shoreline control
March 17, 2022
Friction between anglers and Elochoman Valley property owners spilled over to the Tuesday meeting of the Wahkiakum County Board of Commissioners.
Property owners told commissioners an influx of anglers has infringed on their riverfront property and brought problems with litter and people relieving themselves. They asked what could be done to address the situation, and after discussion, officials agreed to press the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) to post signs and make efforts to educate anglers to respect property rights.
Property owners had questions about their deeds and rights to prohibit access along their shorelines, and there were no clear answers from county officials or a WDFW enforcement sergeant.
"The deeds are all different along the water," commented Commissioner Dan Cothren.
One landowner commented that guides in driftboats were bringing parties down the river, landing on private property to fish and to party, and filming the events to post on the internet to market the business to potential clients.
"They're using our land to make money off our property," he said.
WDFW enforcement Sgt. Todd Dielman said the situation is not unique to the Elochoman River but occurs across the state.
"It's a complex issue," he said.
Sheriff Mark Howie said officers can enforce trespassing offenses when the property is posted with signs.
It was suggested that the county could establish rules and licenses for commercial guides.
Commissioner Cothren suggested the landowners contact Prosecuting Attorney Dan Bigelow about their property rights and possible regulatory ordinance.