Gissy Spring/Indian Creek – Private Property or Public Navigable Waterways?

Entrance to Gissy Spring
Entrance to Indian Creek – A Navigable Waterway?



Rest Stop at Gissy Spring Run
Stumpknocker at the mouth of Indian Creek

If you’ve ever paddled the beautiful Rainbow River in Marion County near Dunellon, Fl, you have probably noticed, or even attempted to explore, a narrow spring run that flows into the river just a 1/4 mile North of K.P. Hole County Park. This is Indian Creek, that leads to Gissy Spring.

Indian Creek flows 0.40 miles West from its source, Indian Spring, now known as Gissy Spring.  It was purchased by successful investor/developer Jim Gissy in 2006.

My original post on Gissy Spring…

Gissy Spring Run
Indian Creek

On October 16, 2019, I posted information of a paddle I made to Gissy Spring which flows into the Rainbow River via Indian Creek. In that post, as in all my posts, I provide enough information describing the paddle, to include a map, as well as details and photographs of the flora and fauna. A key feature of that post was a discussion of Florida Navigable Waters and whether the water, and the land beneath, are actually private property. I provided several links to Florida’s laws and descriptions of navigable waters and included several references to the land that bordered the spring and run as being private property. The post was my personal documentation of paddling the run, as well as my interpretation of ‘navigable waters’ from the documentation I researched. The original post can be read here.

Florida Navigable Waters…

In 1845, Florida was granted statehood and admitted to the Union, and simultaneously was granted title to all lands beneath navigable waters, by virtue of its sovereignty.

The state constitution addresses the issue of sovereignty lands in Article X, §11 where it states: “The title to lands under navigable waters, within the boundaries of the state, which have not been alienated, including beaches below mean high water lines, is held by the state , by virtue of its sovereignty in trust for all the people. ” This constitutional provision establishes what the state owns by virtue of its sovereignty, “lands under navigable waters,” and for what purpose these lands are held “in trust for all the people.” Title to these lands, as well as administration, management, and control, is vested in the Board of Trustees of the Internal Improvement Trust Fund…Florida Bar Journal Vol 76 No. 1 January 2002

A call to remove my post…

The Letter
The Letter

On April 23rd, 2020, I received an email from Kathryn Gissy Saft Esq., a lawyer representing Jim Gissy’s interests The email revolves around the above-mentioned post from October 16, 2019, titled Gissy Spring. Ms. Saft stated that the spring, and the run, are NOT navigable waters under Florida law and is therefore, along with the land beneath the water, private property.

I was told to “immediately remove the aforementioned blog post and confirm your compliance with this demand within three (3) business days“, or “face consequences of being responsible for anyone paddling up there and stealing personal property or equipment“. In a subsequent email, I was provided a 2006 Boundary Survey for Gissy Springs, being advised to check any survey of the Rainbow River to confirm that Indian Creek and the spring, are not navigable waterways.

The survey provided did not confirm anything but the Mean High Water Mark for the Rainbow River. Specifically noted in the Survey Report that was included, the surveyor specifically states that the survey does not include a survey of the spring and run, states that portions of the submerged lands may be subject to Sovereign Ownership Rights of the state of Florida and concludes that Riparian Rights, Rights of Accretion or Reliction, Submerged Land Rights, Wetland Jurisdictional Boundaries or any other water rights of any nature were not determined by this survey.

In summary…

This obviously leaves the issue still unsettled for paddlers. This can be easily settled if Ms. Saft would provide information that deeds to Mr. Gissy the sovereign land of Florida above and beneath Indian Creek and the Indian Springs, of which there are 4. Documentation must also show that Indian Creek is not a navigable waterway.

As paddlers, we often run into situations like this and it is always helpful to understand our public rights on Florida’s waterways. My original post will remain up, though I will gladly amend it when presented with information needed. I continue to state that it is always up to each person to respect private property rights along Florida’s waterways.

Additional Information…

Rainbow River/Indian Creek…

Florida’s Navigable Waters…

Riparian Rights…

Gissy Spring and more…

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  1. Peter Clayton

    As always your post was informative and useful. We’ve paddled Rainbow, but not Indian Creek/Gissy Spring Run. A return to Rainbow was doubtful because the downstream section was so developed, but seeing your photos of the Run may change our mind. We’re not planning any overnight outings until things settle down so we’ll continue to monitor your posts – thanks again.

  2. Bill Dishong

    This same issue arose years ago with regard to Fisheating Creek and the attempts by a large landowner to restrict access to “ their property”
    After much hassle and hoopla the public’s right to paddle Fisheating Creek was upheld

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