Environmental Law & Policy Alerts – Update from Somach Simmons & Dunn

February 25, 2021

Ninth Circuit Court of Appeal Remands Walker River Decree Public Trust Claims for Determination of Alternative Remedies

On January 28, 2021, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeal issued a decision addressing issues related to the extent to which the public trust doctrine may be used to safeguard water resources covered under the 1936 Walker River Decree.  The litigation arose from contested water rights in the Walker River Basin, which originates in the Sierra Nevada mountains in California and ends at Walker Lake in Mineral County, Nevada.  In response to the declining water quality of Walker Lake, Mineral County moved to intervene in ongoing litigation in federal district court over the Decree, which adjudicated rights in the Walker River Basin.  Mineral County sought to modify the Decree to ensure minimum flows into Walker Lake under the public trust doctrine…. Read More

Written by J. Palmer Hilton and Andrew M. Hitchings