|JUDGE’S RULING FURTHER CONFIRMS PUBLIC’S
RIGHTS ON LITTLE JUNIATA RIVER
|June 15, 2007
Huntingdon County jurist has confirmed his prior ruling guaranteeing the rights of citizens to have access
to the Little Juniata River for fishing, boating and other recreation—a move applauded by the state agencies
participating in the case.
The ruling yesterday by Huntingdon County Court of Common Pleas Judge Stewart Kurtz denies
the defendants’ motion
for post-trial relief filed after the original decision was handed down in January. The Department of
Environmental Protection, the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources and the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat
Commission had filed suit in 2003 against Donald Beaver and other defendants who had closed a 1.3-mile section of
the Little Juniata River to the public and started a private fishing club.
In addition to upholding his
findings that the Little Juniata River is navigable, and therefore public, Kurtz permanently enjoined
the defendants “from
interfering with the public’s rights in the Little Juniata, including the posting and/or hanging of signs, advertising
the Little Juniata River as private waters and threatening, harassing and otherwise attempting to exclude
the public from fishing, boating, wading and/or recreating on and in the Little Juniata River and the
submerged lands owned by the commonwealth.”
commonwealth based ownership of the river on historical evidence of navigation and trade on the Little
Juniata River dating from the 1700s and statutory designations of the river as a public highway dating
to 1794, 1808 and 1822.
The commonwealth’s case drew the support of local residents and businesses and statewide