Christian County judge hears arguments in lawsuit for access to popular Finley River spot

Updated: May. 25, 2021 at 12:21 PM CDT
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OZARK, Mo. (KY3) - A Christian County judge heard arguments for opening access to a popular river spot.

Property owners in the Lindenlure area closed access to the Finley River in March of 2020. At issue is whether Canyon Road, which runs parallel to the Finley River is private or public. Land owners blocked it with a gate and concrete barriers.

Those who filed the lawsuit to reopen it, including David Romano and Adam Evans, took the stand Tuesday morning to testify about the many times they spent with their families at the river spot swimming, fishing or floating, or even as part of stream cleanups. They argue many have enjoyed the river spot for decades, using Canyon Road to access the river. They claim the county maintained the road. One witness claimed a sign on a gate at the end of the road in the early 2000s stated it was where county road maintenance ended.

The defense claims the road is private, and landowners had the right to un-invite the public because of bad behavior at the river access. A conservation agent testified he has written tickets for littering, fishing permits, drug use, and people driving in the river before the gate went up. He says he hasn’t written any citations since, and it has lessened criminal activity there.

The group fighting for public access filed this civil lawsuit against the landowners, as well as Christian County. Judge Laura Johnson must decide whether the road is public or private, but attorneys in the case say that will likely be a while.

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