The Coalition brought this case to overturn Utah’s ill-named Public Waters Access Act (HB 141) on constitutional grounds. In 2008, in the case of Conatser v. Johnson, the Utah Supreme Court unanimously held that the public’s right to lawfully access and use its public waters in place for any lawful activity, including recreation, allowed the public to reasonably touch the privately-owned beds of public waters in ways incident and necessary to such use. In 2010, with passage of HB 141, the Utah legislature purported to overrule the Conatser decision and to abolish the public’s right to touch privately-owned streambeds when using public waters in place. The Coalition contends that the public’s right to use public waters in place was recognized and confirmed in the Utah Constitution at statehood and that HB 141 violates this right. It further contends that HB 141 violates constitutional and other public trust and separation of powers principles. A favorable ruling in this case will restore the public’s right to use public waters in place as confirmed in Conatser.
NEXT STEPS: As of January 2023
First, we wait for a decision from the Supreme Court in the Victory Ranch case. This may take three to six months. If we get a favorable decision, we will likely go back to the district court for further proceedings on our claim that the Public Waters Access Act is unconstitutional. The question that is now before the Supreme Court is just the first of four issues that have to be decided in our favor before the Act can be declared unconstitutional.
If the Supreme Court’s decision in the current round is unfavorable, the Victory Ranch case will be over, and the Public Waters Access Act will stand. Our only recourse will be to convince the Legislature to repeal or change the Act. In the meantime, our rights will be limited to navigable waters, such as the upper Weber River.
We continue to look for potential navigability claims on the Middle Weber, Provo, Ogden, Logan, Upper Bear, Blacks Fork, Blacksmith Fork, Little Bear, and Sevier Rivers.
Learn more and follow along in our journey to restore access:
USAC Filings – Complaint, Motion For Summary Judgment, and Memoranda:
Download PDF – USAC/Public Waters Complaint
USAC v ATC Realty Sixteen – Motion For Summary Judgment Oral Argument Requested
USAC v ATC Realty Sixteen – Memorandum In Support Of Motion For Summary Judgment
Coalition Memorandum In Reply To State & ATC’s Memoranda In Opposition
USACs Supplemental Memorandum in Support of Motion for Summary Judgement
Letter, Cross Motion For Summary Judgment, Memoranda, and Declarations of Opposing Parties:
Letter From Steven Clyde Informing Victory Ranch And Silver Creek Robert Larsen Investors Conveyed Interest To Wells Fargo
USAC v ATC Realty Sixteen – Motion For Summary Judgment
USAC v ATC Realty Sixteen – Memorandum In Support Of Cross Motion For Summary Judgment
USAC v ATC Realty Sixteen – Combined Memorandum In Support Of States Motion For Summary Judgment And In Opposition To Plaintiffs Motion For Summary Judgment
USAC v ATC Realty Sixteen – Memorandum In Support Of Cross Motion For Summary Judgment And In Opposition To Plaintiff Utah Stream Access Coalitions Motion For Summary Judgment
In order are the briefs filed by the State and the briefs filed by ATC regarding public trust. Along with our reply to those filings. Now we wait for word from the court.
State’s Brief; Motion to Substitute
Supplemental Memorandum – Public Trust Doctrine.pdf
USAC — ATC — Stipulated Motion to Substitute (EPL 10.17.12).docx
Reply to Amicus Curiae, Request for Decision