Help Us – Ungate the Lake
Contributions of any amount are welcome to support the legal
effort to gain public access to Oswego Lake.
Friends of Sucker Lake
Sorry, donations do not qualify for tax deduction
On May 3, 2017, the Oregon Court of Appeals decided in favor of the defendants. Here is a summary of their decision:
“As explained below, we agree with the defendants that, even if the public-trust doctrine applies to all navigable waterways regardless of ownership of the underlying land a question that we need not decide, it does not obligate the state or the city to provide public access to the lake from the upland city parks. In other words, assuming without deciding (1) that the lake is public under state law, and (2) that the public-trust doctrine applies to the lake (regardless of state ownership of the submerged and submersible lands), we conclude that the doctrine does not require defendants to provide reasonable access [across the upland city parks] for the public to use and enjoy the Lake waters, as plaintiffs contend in their complaint. Thus, the trial court did not err in denying plaintiffs’ motion and granting summary judgment to defendants on plaintiffs’ first claim for relief.”
This is just half-time of our battle. We understood from day one that this case would have to be decided by the Oregon Supreme Court, both because of its important policy considerations and because it has been decades since the Oregon Supreme Court weighed in on the application of the public trust doctrine. Here’s the bottom line. If the state is not obliged to protect public resources when access is denied, can they actually be considered public? If the Court of Appeals is correct, cities, towns, counties, corporations, businesses, public and private actors can interfere with public access to public resources without recourse of remedy. This cannot stand.
While our attorneys are generously donating their time on this case, we are still in need of donations to help defray administrative costs such as court filings fees. We are up against a well-funded city that is using taxpayer dollars to prevent public access for the benefit of a powerful special interest. If you or anyone you know is willing to donate additional funds to help see this case to victory, it would be greatly appreciated.