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Landing on waterways (islands, sand bars, etc)


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Hello All,


I have been told that landing on islands/sandbars is ok in California as long as boats are able to use the area also. From what I have found regarding seaplanes, this appears to be correct. It is part of the public trust for access. Can you someone confirm?




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Whenever I've seen stuff like that up here in Northern California, its under a 'National Marine Sanctuary', so I wouldn't land on them. However if they're not, it sounds like it should be ok?


Maybe you should PM the Dude from Boatpix,...flying R22 Mariners over the water all the time, he might know more?


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Here's a link to your question in November ...



You can also contact the State of California Division of Aeronautics directly @ 916.654.4959


Physical Address:

Department of Transportation

Division of Aeronautics

1120 N Street, Room 3300

Sacramento, CA 95814


Mailing Address:

Department of Transportation

Division of Aeronautics, MS 40

P. O. Box 942874

Sacramento, CA 94274-0001


General Information:


Fax - 916.653.9531

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It appears that landing below the high water mark on a river is legal where boats are allowed. This differs from my thread in Nov about landing on public land in general. I called them also, they did not confirm but couldn't point to a law restricting it.

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The land your asking about is either State, Federal aka BLM managed or privately owned...


The following applies to navigable waterways... Anything below the low water mark is considered Federal land and anything above the low water mark is considered state land, unless it has been leased or sold to a corporation or individual, at which point it is considered privately owned, unless stipulated in the lease agreement and even this could be a grey area depending on the terms of the lease or sale.


This should give you enough info to determine who to contact about your specific waterway questions.


Here's an example to further confuse everyone: Landing on a sandbar:

Sandbars are exposed during low water and as such would be under State of California control.... However this opens yet another legal question, which entity State or Federal control an area of land that may or may not exist within a few days/hours, since sandbars are constantly moving and are here today and gone tomorrow, being solely dependent upon the current for their existence?


So to answer your question, if you know your landing on state land, simply ask the state for permission, note the date, time and who you spoke with during your phone conversation and have fun...

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