Justice on the Jackson River, Not Yet

For my everyday readers, you’ll know that I’ve followed Dargan Coggeshall’s fight for justice on the Jackson River in Virginia. I read with sadness recently that he has lost his court battle, leaving anglers in deep doubt about their rights in the Commonwealth. From the release:

“On October 9, 2012, in the Circuit Court of Alleghany County, attorneys for Dargan Coggeshall and Charles Crawford informed the Court that their clients did not have sufficient resources to proceed further in the defense of the trespass case against them.  Accordingly, they consented to the Court enjoining the two of them from wading or walking on the contested portion of the streambed of the Jackson River.  The Court stated that although the information the plaintiffs had presented was insufficient to prove their claim of fee simple title to the riverbed, they had shown prima facie title. Prima facie title can be established by possession of the property and a current deed purporting to convey the property to the plaintiffs.”

Now, I hate injustice, and its hard to see a silver lining here. Its damn hard. I know injustice and I know Coggeshall is hurting, and all of us who support the Virginia Rivers Defense Fund are hurting. We’re in fear that any of Virginia’s great rivers, the Rappahanock, Cowpasture, Shenandoah, could be the next site for an outrageous act of cowardice from the Virginia Attorney General’s Office and VDGIF if a landownder decides to sue an angler, paddler, kayaker, hunter or bird-watcher who steps foot in water where some lackey tax-collector has erred and given the landowner false information that leads them to believe they own the Commonwealth’s rivers.

But I know something about justice. It doesn’t come often and easy, but it does come.  Justice does come. Now, because the civil litigation has ended, other organizations can step-up on this issue and fight alongside the VRDF. Strangers can step out of the dark and become allies in the full light. Will you stand? Will you stand for justice? I don’t care what your other politics are, will you stand, if you stood with Dargan before, will you keep standing? Trout Unlimited, will you stand? VA National Rifle Association, will you stand? Teddy Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, will you stand? Virginia Sportsmen’s Foundation, will you stand? VA Boy Scouts of America, will you stand? VA Sierra Club, will you stand? VA hunters and anglers, bait chuckers and dry fly purists, will you stand?

To those mentioned in this article, and other owners at The River’s Edge, its never too late to do the right thing. There is no shame in fighting the good fight, whensover you choose. Will you stand?

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