On March 25, 2019, the Center filed actions in Maricopa County Superior Court to challenge an agency’s findings that the Gila, Salt, and Verde Rivers were not “navigable” when Arizona became a state in 1912. These findings, made by the Arizona Navigable Stream Adjudication Commission (“ANSAC”), ignore numerous historical accounts of actual boating and other navigation on all three rivers from before and after statehood.
This litigation is important because under the “public trust doctrine,” the State gained title to the beds of all navigable waters and must maintain them for public use and enjoyment. It cannot simply give away these priceless natural resources to private landowners and corporate interests (although the State has repeatedly tried to do just that). The Center has led the charge in enforcing the public trust doctrine in Arizona since the 1980s, and we’ll continue fighting to secure the Gila, Salt, and Verde Rivers for future generations.