This just in – The Honorable Derek Pullan recently ruled on our Public Waters (Provo River) case. As you recall, last May Judge Pullan requested additional briefing regarding the Public Trust doctrine. This decision addresses the public trust issues we raised, and disagreed with many assertions made by the Defense. In particular, the court rejected the arguments that:
* The State’s public trust duties are purely procedural.
* The State has no trust duties to recreationalists.
* There could be no trust violation because the State still holds the easement.
In addition, the court concluded that the severity of the restrictions on the public’s easement rights amounts to a disposal or “taking” of that easement. Therefore, the only question that remains is whether the public’s interest in the use of its waters was “substantially impaired” by taking away of these rights. This is a purely factual question that requires the court to take evidence on the impact of the statute.
Simply put, the court agrees with the legal arguments brought by the USAC. Now all we have to do is prove exactly what was lost as a result of the Public Waters Access Act.
While on the surface it may seem like not much is different in this ruling, make no mistake: this is a huge win for us, and goes much farther than the prior ruling. With the legal questions out of the way we can focus on the facts. The Coalition is confident in our ability to provide the court with ample evidence of what has been taken from the public, and the impact it has had on citizens of the State of Utah. Regardless of how Judge Pullan finally resolves the case, it will be appealed to the Utah Supreme Court.
We would like to thank our outstanding legal counsel for their tireless efforts to this cause, and thank you for your continued support.
Link here of full version of the ruling can be found http://utahstreamaccess.org/usac-wp/files/PullanMar2013Ruling.pdf