The State of Washington, through its Department of Game, purchased waterfront lots on Phantom and Ames Lakes and developed both properties into public fishing access areas. Large numbers of the public took advantage of these facilities, fishing from boats and the lake-shore. The two lakes, however, were not the kind found in true fishermen's dreams, isolated from civilization and surrounded by forests primeval. Both Phantom and Ames Lakes were surrounded by numerous residences, whose owners brought separate actions to enjoin the State from maintaining the public access areas, alleging nuisance and abuse of the lakes by the State's licensees. The trial courts found as fact that such abuses had occurred and persisted, and concluded that the State's maintenance of such facilities unreasonably interfered with the property owners' rights, constituting a taking and damaging of property without compensation in violation of the Washington State Constitution. Based on these facts and conclusions, the trial courts permanently enjoined the State of Washington from maintaining and operating the public fishing access areas. Upon appeal by the State, the lower courts' injunctions were modified to provide that the State would be enjoined only until it obtained the trial courts' approval of comprehensive plans for regulating public use of the lakes. With this modification, the judgments of the trial courts were affirmed. Held: The State, where it enjoys riparian rights, need not acquire by condemnation the rights of other riparians before its licensees may use the water in reasonable numbers, but it has the obligation to regulate the number and conduct of its licensees so as to prevent undue interference with the rights of other riparians. Botton v. State, 69 Wn. 2d 751, 420 P.2d 352 (1966); Ames Lake Community Club v. State, 69 Wn. 2d 769, 420 P.2d 363 (1966).
The Tale of Two Lakes—A New Chapter in Washington Water Law,
Wash. L. & Rev.
Available at: https://digitalcommons.law.uw.edu/wlr/vol43/iss2/12