UPDATE 6/23/2020: We received a very generous matching pledge from a local philanthropist, so we have changed the fundraising goal to $15,000. This means anything we raise here up to $15,000 will be DOUBLED, up to our goal of $30,000. Good news! We have also met with the surveyors and the lead lawyer (other lawyers helping are working pro bono) and begun preparing our case.
In March 2020, some of the property owners on the Finley River in Christian County MO installed a gate and concrete blocks on Canyon Road, the public access point to the river known as “Lindenlure.” This was their latest attempt since before 2011 to block public access to the most popular swimming area in Christian County and the first “put-in” for float trips on the Finley (mile 0.0). In this case, they even blocked access of one of the other property owners to their land, refusing to recognize a historical private easement.
The public easement and right of access at Lindenlure dates back some 100 years – the place has been a popular fishing and swimming area for the public since the 1920s. Countless children of Christian County learned to fish and swim at Lindenlure, and the area served as a free and nearby natural place for families and others to cool off on hot summer days.
Rivers like the Finley form part of the historical and natural heritage of this part of the Ozarks. Rivers are owned by the public in Missouri, but this means little unless riparian landowners are forced to respect historical public easements to access our waterways. Missouri Supreme Court cases such as Elder vs. Delcour (1954) have nonetheless established that the public has a right to enjoy these rivers anywhere below the high water mark. In cases like this public access to these places is a right that people should nonetheless treat as a privilege. Those who think landowners on the river can just abolish this right on a whim have things backwards.
Since some of our elected Christian County officials seems more interested in catering to landholders’ interests than protecting the public’s right of access to the Finley at Lindenlure, we are raising money for a lawsuit to restore public access. Lawsuits are not cheap, unfortunately. Please donate whatever you can spare – even $20 acts as a much more powerful version of a signature on a petition, showing our elected officials that the real public cares deeply about access to our waterways.
Once we have restored access to the Finley River, our group (“Lindenlure Finley River for the Public,” which has more than 1600 members already, just two weeks after being created) has various plans for dealing with litter on the Finley River. While cleanup groups for the Finley have existed since at least 2017 (Missouri “Stream Teams”), we want to have a couple of “River Patrol” volunteers each week talking to people, offering them trash bags for their litter, and sensitizing them to the need to respect area landowners as they exercise their right to access our beautiful state’s waterways.
With the exception of any lawyers and surveyors hired for this battle, we are all volunteers at Lindenlure Finley River for the Public. Any leftover money from this fundraiser, after we restore public access to Lindenlure, will therefore be directed to Finley River conservation and efforts to maintain or restore public access to other waterways in Missouri.