Yesterday afternoon, Judge Derek Pullan of Utah’s 4th District Court ruled in favor the public’s right to lawfully access and recreate on ALL of Utah’s public rivers and streams.Take a breath, and drink that in. WE DID IT. YOU DID IT.
The ruling culminates a lawsuit filed by the Utah Stream Access Coalition in 2010, which sought to declare the “Public Waters Access Act” unconstitutional. The Act, contrary to its title, effectively disposed of the public’s right to use over 2,700 miles of Utah’s rivers and streams where they ostensibly cross over private property, many miles of which have benefited from publicly-funded habitat and stream bank restoration, flood abatement, and other projects. The lawsuit named as defendants the State of Utah and Victory Ranch, a Wasatch County development selling luxury home sites offering exclusive access to more than four miles of the Provo River, one of Utah’s premier blue ribbon trout fisheries.
“This is a case where policy triumphed over profits; where law prevailed over lobbying” Coalition President Kris Olson said. “The rivers and streams of our state are gifts of providence, and the lifeblood of this arid land. Since before statehood, these rivers have been used by all, and we’re grateful that the Court prevented that use from becoming exclusive to a privileged few.”
In the 61-page decsion, Judge Pullan noted that the Act served no trust or greater public purpose and substantially impaired the public’s interest in the resource that remains, that is, the waters and streams of Utah. The Court observed that “Every parcel of public land, every reach of public water is unique. If Wasatch, Kodachrome Basin, and Snow Canyon State Parks were disposed of…the public’s right to recreate in other places would be of little consolation.”
In the ruling the Court prohibits Victory Ranch from any action which ‘prohibits, prevents, impedes, limits or impairs the public’s right to access the Upper Provo River where it flows through VRA’s property,’ and prohibits the State of Utah from enforcing the restrictions provided in the Act.
The Coalition recognizes YOU, our members and supporters who made this happen. If not for you, we NEVER could have made it this far. But remember, this is only only one more step towards resolution. While we have won both (the Weber and Provo) cases at the district court level, we still anticipate two appeals to the Utah Supreme Court. After enduring the course of these two battles, we need you to recharge our war chest. We have shown our face in battle. We will not back down. Now is the time to stand up – to fight for your rights – the rights of future Utahans, and to make a donation for what you believe in. Our legislative battles are forthcoming, as are our appeals to the Utah Supreme Court. Support our rights to use our rivers and streams, now, and for generations to come.
Board of Directors
Utah Steam Access Coalition
The Mission of the Utah Stream Access Coalition is to promote and assist in all aspects of restoring and preserving public access to, and lawful use of, Utah’s public waters and streambeds.
The USAC is an all-volunteer, 501(c)4 nonprofit corporation, and while your donations are appreciated, they are NOT tax-deductible.
Utah Stream Access Coalition
P.O. Box 91154
Salt Lake City, UT 84109