10 years, 9 months, and 6 days. This is the amount of time that the Coalition, membership, counsel, and our supporters have waited for a “final” decision in the Provo Case. Filed on November 12, 2010, the right-to-use/public waters case on the Provo River was a coordinated effort challenging the constitutionality of Utah’s ill-named Public Waters Access Act–H.B. 141. The case made its way to the Utah Supreme Court and then remanded back to the Fourth District Court to address a threshold issue: whether the scope of the easement recognized in Conatser v. Johnson was an interest in land that was “acquired” and “accepted” by the State at the time of the ratification of the Utah Constitution in 1896? Since this decision was filed on February 20, 2019, the Coalition’s sole focus has been researching all potential sources evidencing a recreational easement at statehood.
On June 21, 2021, Judge Derek P. Pullan heard oral arguments from the parties addressing this threshold issue. On August 16, 2021, Judge Pullan issued his decision which granted summary judgment to the State and VRA, stating: “[t]he Coalition has come forward with substantial evidence that in the last half of the 19th century, Utahns widely and freely touched and used both public and private beds of Utah’s lakes, rivers, and streams for a variety of purposes, including recreation. But the Coalition has failed to prove that this historical use gave rise to a public easement dictated by our law in the late 19th Century.” Simply put, while the Coalition provided ample evidence of recreational use at statehood, the law at that time did not provide a sufficient framework to definitively say that this recreational use resulted in a public easement. This is not the end of this case.
On October 13, 2021, the Coalition filed its Notice of Appeal. Because this case could potentially restore thousands of miles of river access, the Coalition’s decision to move forward was obvious–let’s go. Our membership and sponsors have been with us for over 11 years, and we will continue advocating and arguing to restore this right. In addition to appealing Judge Pullan’s decision, the Coalition will continue its efforts in finding a legislative solution.
On behalf of the Board of USAC, we appreciate your continued support as we move forward with restoring access.
Utah Stream Access Ale Drops TODAY at Fisher Brewing!
Join us TONIGHT, October 20th, for a beer release from Fisher Brewing Company and an outdoor showing of Patagonia’s award winning film Public Trust. Fisher brewed us a Stream Access Ale hazy pale and will generously be donating $1 per beer and we will have great Patagonia samples for sale and a raffle! We will also have the beer label artist Wandering Blue Lines rolling ink live at the brewery! Party starts at 6pm, movie at 7:30pm! Please join us! More info HERE.
USAC Annual Membership Meeting
The 2021 USAC General Membership meeting will be held virtually this year on Wednesday, November 17th, at 7:00pm (MT) via phone and video conference. Members will be able to call in via phone or video link. Details will be provided one week prior to the meeting. We encourage all members in good standing to attend.
In addition to hearing updates from the Officers and our legal team, we will be holding elections for the 2022 USAC Board of Directors.
Speaking of which, do you want to get more involved with the Stream Access fight? USAC is looking for motivated individuals who are willing to help drive the cause. Is that you or somebody you know? Beginning today, and ending on November 3rd, we are accepting Nominations for four (4) of USAC’s Board of Directors. These 4 directors will serve the 2022 term with Cullen Battle, Sean Leonard, and Herbert Ley who have been selected by the existing board to serve an additional term.
To be eligible for nomination, a person must:
Be a member of USAC.
Support the mission of the Coalition, that is: to promote and assist in all aspects of securing and maintaining public access to, and lawful use of, Utah’s public waters and streambeds.
Be able to commit no less than 10 hours per month, on average, to the Coalition. (In peak times such as during the legislative session this commitment may be substantially greater.)
Be able to attend, either in person or by teleconference or video conference, monthly meetings of the USAC Board of Directors.
Sound interesting? Nominations can be submitted directly by email to Tara.Olson@utahstreamaccess.org, and will be reviewed and approved by the sitting Board of Directors. Please include with your nomination a brief paragraph about your nominee (or yourself) why they (or you) want to be involved, and why they (or you) would be an asset to USAC leadership. The ballot will be finalized one week before the membership meeting.