Happy New Year!
As we begin this New Year, it’s worth looking back at the remarkable achievements made by the Utah Stream Access Coalition (USAC) in its 17 months of existence.
We have filed two lawsuits in two different Utah District Courts on two different sets of legal grounds. Our goals for both of these suits are to have the courts find as unconstitutional the so-called “Recreational Use of Public Water Act” (a.k.a., HB141), revoke the Act, and ultimately have the Utah Supreme Court address the extent of the public’s easement to use their waters and waterways for lawful activities that utilize the water.
In November USAC joined in on a “Friend of the Court” Brief in an important case (PPL Montana v. State of Montana) before the United States Supreme Court. This case addresses the definition of “navigability” as a means for defining river & streambed ownership under Federal Law at the time of Statehood.
We have grown our membership to approximately 1,500 individuals who share our mission “to promote and assist in all aspects of securing and maintaining public access to Utah’s public waters and streambeds.”
We have formally established ourselves as a Utah Non-Profit Corporation, achieved 501(c)(4) status at the Federal level, and filed our corporate tax returns.
We have sought and received donations of money and goods that have allowed us to cover our existing costs and build a small “war chest.”
We continue efforts to make our existence know in every corner of Utah as we seek to recruit and enlist new members outside of the Salt Lake, Utah and Cache Valleys.
We are attracting nationwide attention for our efforts leading the fight for public access to the public waters of Utah, and it has been recognized that our successes in Utah might lead the way for citizens of neighboring states to engage in similar fights.
We have had articles on our activities published in national print and electronic media, and we have been gradually getting our message out to a more diverse audience through other means, such as radio.
We anticipate that there will be a groundswell of interest in our organization and its activities when we have our first major victory in the courts.We are doing our best to prepare for that day.
Meanwhile, I note that none of these achievements would have been possible without the dedication, conviction, and plain hard work of our Directors and Officers, past and present; of our Attorneys, who have put in hour-upon-hour of effort pro bono; and of our many “champions,” both pubic & private, in Utah and elsewhere.Add to that the sincere & earnest efforts of our many volunteers: Volunteers who have “bent the ears” of fellow Utahans with the facts about the Legislature’s revocation of their rights to use the public waters of Utah; volunteers who have made contacts and introductions for the Coalition; volunteers who have written articles presenting our goals and activities in a positive light; volunteers who have searched through property titles at county courthouses; volunteers who have unearthed forgotten anglers’ easements on local rivers; volunteers who have sent requests for documents regarding river use and access to the Utah State Government; and volunteers who have spooled through miles-and-miles of microfiche in search of old newspaper articles providing proof of use of our rivers for commerce at Statehood and before.
To all of you, and on behalf of the entire Board of Directors, I’d like to say thank you for efforts. We hope that we can rely on your continued support and involvement. Let’s hope that 2012 brings us continued success in this fight to secure and maintain the rights of the public to access and use the public waters and waterways of Utah.
May this New Year bring hope, joy, and meaning to you and your loved-ones.
Utah Stream Access Coalition