City Government

A River Runs Through It

The City of Boise is apparently claiming to have annexed the Boise River into the city along with the right to impose city ordinances on those who use it.

The GUARDIAN thinks city officials may have overstepped their boundries when they claim to have annexed the Boise River. It may be city on both sides of the river, but just because a river runs through it doesn’t make it city.

We haven’t checked the records or the map, but it is doubtful there was truly any annexation as claimed in media reports. Annexation requires legal notices, public hearings and a formal resolution by the city council–not lines on a map.
State code, case law, and lots of legal scholars tell us the river is owned by the state of Idaho and its citizens. That goes for the water, the fish, and the
river bottom.

The city claims to have found existing laws which give them power over the river. But hold on pardner–water law and rivers are a whole different animal when it comes to the law.

Waterways enforcement is addressed in Idaho law and the county sheriff is the authority–not city cops. The sheriff can defer to local cops for enforcement of state and county laws, but they cannot impose city law outside the city–and rivers are clearly outside the city.

We predict the Idaho Attorney General will bow out of the issue and let the courts decide if Boise cops can write tickets for violation of city ordinances. We also predict the city is wrong once again.

Comments & Discussion

Comments are closed for this post.

  1. Kelly Hagans
    May 24, 2005, 6:38 pm

    I have just discovered your site in an attempt to find out more about how Boise City has come to the conclusion that the river is both in its jurisdiction and fits under existing city ordinances. I would love to hear more about what the law concerning waterways in idaho is.
    Thanks for what you’re doing!

Get the Guardian by email

Enter your email address: