Communication from resident Kath Kruk – August 14, 2014

On sat. Aug 9 i received extensive damage to my boat motor on entering lake Koshkonong due to the channel markers not being in place. I was told by the boat patrol that the Town of sumner is responsible for placing the markers. Town of Sumner says the DNR controls the water and they have no responsibility for the markers. Who can I file a claim against? I was told that I was the fourth boat severely damaged just that day. Ridiculous loss of money and potential loss of life.

Kathy Kruk

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Kathy –
Yup, that would be great if someone else had to pay for boat damage caused by obstructions, but Wisconsin lakes and rivers are public resources, owned in common by all Wisconsin citizens under the state’s Public Trust Doctrine, located within the state Constitution. It declares that all navigable waters are “common highways and forever free. ”

So the quick answer is, it is not possible to file a claim against the state of WI for hitting unmarked (or marked) objects in the water.
Similarly, it is not possible to file a claim for hitting a deer on the highway.

I am not a lawyer, but I believe it’s called something like, implied risk. I am almost certain the state also indemnifies all local units of government from responsibility of placing, or not placing, bouys. Basically, use the recreational resource at your own risk.

But don’t take my word for it – there is a local WI DNR Service Center in Janesville –
(608) 743-4800
Good Luck and I would love to hear what the DNR says regarding this issue.

Brian Christianson
Chairman, RKLD Board of Commissioners
608-884-9444

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Still looking in to this. I feel this would be a great place for the rrka to put some of its funds and be responsible for buoy placement. At the mouth of the lake and at the sand bar just east of pattens marina where many boats not only beach themselves, but I have witnessed injuries.

Kathy Kruk