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Old 03-02-2008, 10:09 PM
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Default spring ridge club update

Does anyone have any news on the ongoing battle between the Spring Ridge Club and the advocates of public access in western PA?

There has been ongoing legal wrangling over the right to lease/ purchase and effectively block access on water deemed public by some western PA residents. The famed Spruce Creek and the Little Juniata are in the crosshairs of the action. Spruce Creek has long been mostly private (and stocked with very large and well fed trout) but the Little Juniata has been open to the public and is a "natural" hatchery. Any news on these wonderful streams would be appreciated.

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Old 03-02-2008, 11:06 PM
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Default Re: spring ridge club update

In brevity, Spruce Creek being a non-navigable waterway can be blocked from public access, and in fact, except for a half mile section owned by Penn State University is largely unavailable for public access. The Little Juniata has been found by the courts to be, historically, a navigable waterway and as a consequence can not be blocked from public access. This pertains to the stream bottom meaning you could float in or wade in to access parts of the river but can't necessarily cross private, posted property. This ruling regarding the stream bottom access has been appealed by Spring Ridge Club BUT I heard rumored this past week that Spring Ridge was dropping this appeal.? That's the best I can tell you at this time although I'm sure that Alan Bright at Spruce Creek Outfitters, in Spruce Creek, PA could give you the most accurate, up-to-date info since he's been fully involved in this from day one.
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Old 03-03-2008, 06:28 AM
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Default Re: spring ridge club update

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Old 03-08-2008, 03:46 PM
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Default Re: spring ridge club update

Lawsuit over access to fish Little Juniata River resolved
Friday, February 08, 2008
By Deborah Weisberg, Special to the Post-Gazette

Fishing preserve entrepreneur Donny Beaver has dropped his court case against state agencies, thus closing the book on a lengthy battle over the public's right to fish the Little Juniata River, one of the state's most coveted trout waters.

In a letter to Commonwealth Court dated Monday, Mr. Beaver's attorneys indicated that he would drop his challenge to a ruling handed down a year ago by Huntingdon County Common Pleas Judge Stewart Kurtz, stating that the Little Juniata is navigable and open to the public.

Mr. Beaver had claimed that a section of the river was private and could be fished only by members of his club.

Mr. Beaver's appeal was tentatively scheduled to be heard in April.

"This sets precedence on the [Little Juniata]," said Dennis Whitaker of the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection and lead attorney for the state. "It prevents Beaver from making future legal challenges on the Little J, and discourages anyone else from doing the same thing, since case law is pretty clear that if any part of the river is navigable, the whole river is navigable."

Mr. Beaver's attorney, Douglas Y. Christian, did not return phone calls seeking comment.

Discontinuing the appeal keeps Judge Kurtz's decision legally binding only on the Little Juniata, according to John D. Echeverria, executive director of the Georgetown Environmental Law and Policy Institute at Georgetown University.

"Beaver has prevented the case from turning into legal precedent that would have binding effect across the state," he said, "although it nonetheless represents a persuasive authority with regard to other cases."

In 2003, the DEP, the Fish and Boat Commission, the state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources and Spruce Creek fishing guide Allan Bright sued Mr. Beaver and his Spring Ridge Club for advertising a 1.3-mile section of the river as private, and chasing non-club members from the water. The state won its case in June 2006, by proving that the river was used historically as a public highway.

Still unresolved is Mr. Bright's damage claim against Mr. Beaver and the club for lost business, although Mr. Bright's attorney, Stan Stein, said that case will now move forward.

"One would have to assume that Beaver is more willing to settle than he would have been before," he said. "Regardless, we are going to pursue Allan's claim for damages."

Lawsuit over access to fish Little Juniata River resolved
"If people don't occasionally walk away from you shaking their heads, you're doing something wrong." John Gierach
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