Regarding NOR claiming 501(c)(3) status in 2013, that paragraph was copied from the old website, along with many other paragraphs, by the website developers. Once we discovered that it was no longer true, we deleted it. There are many nonprofit organizations that are not 501(c)(3), including lobbying organizations, chambers of commerce, etc. If anyone has a tax problem because of it, we’ll make it right.
Regarding supporting AW, of course it’s fine to support AW generally, but their web pages saying that public rights on navigable rivers are determined by state law are incorrect, and need to be fixed (contrary to Andy’s assertion that they are correct as is). Of course, AW is not alone in this—the websites of other river organizations make similar misstatements.
Regarding working together on solutions, that is the purpose of Public Rights on Rivers in Every State and through Federal Lands—to get lawyers, river organization leaders, and river users to read the Supreme Court decisions and discuss their meaning, and work together to restore public rights under federal law, rather than simply believing what they have heard from lawyers who claim that public rights are a matter of state by state discretion. Unfortunately, there is no way to do that without pointing out that the usual claims (about state by state discretion) are wrong.
Regarding PPL Montana v. Montana (2012), that was a Supreme Court decision confirming that states cannot belatedly charge retroactive rent for hydroelectric dams that they approved many decades ago, on the theory that states own riverbeds. The decision was not relevant to public rights to navigate on rivers, which apply “regardless of who owns the riverbed,” as the U.S. Supreme Court has confirmed. If public rights to navigate were based solely on the public trust doctrine, then Marko would be correct that they are determined by state law. However, they are based on the Commerce Clause and the Supremacy Clause of the Constitution (and the relevant Supreme Court decisions) so they are determined by federal law, not state law, as federal court decisions have confirmed.
Regarding being interested in Marko’s claims, we are actually quite interested in hearing what he has to say. If anyone can make the case that navigation rights are up to state governments, it’s Marko and the constitutional law scholar he works with. Marko, if you are claiming that the federal court decision in Atlanta School of Kayaking is no longer good law, please explain why. If you are claiming that states can block navigation on some rivers but not others, please explain the dividing line between the two. If you are claiming that Supreme Court decisions about labor relations, or the length of trains, mean that states can deny navigation rights on navigable rivers, please explain how. In other words, please explain how decisions on other subjects, unrelated to rivers, overturn the landmark U.S. Supreme Court decisions about public rights on navigable rivers, such as Gibbons v. Ogden, Martin v. Waddell, The Daniel Ball, The Montello, Economy Light and Power, United States v. Appalachian Electric, and Montana v. United States. Of course we agree that it would be helpful for the Colorado legislature to reconfirm public rights, and for the Georgia legislature to do likewise, but if you are claiming that public rights on navigable rivers under federal law are “unresolved,” explain how they went from being commonplace and well confirmed by federal law since the 1700s, then somehow became “unresolved” in recent years. What federal court decision (or Act of Congress) are you citing to support your claim that these rights are now “unresolved” under federal law?
If other readers can cite a relevant federal court decision, or a law journal article or other source, we would be interested in seeing that too. What we have found over the years is that the lawyers who claim that public rights on navigable rivers are up to state governments are simply hoping that their audiences are unaware of federal law on the subject (as most audiences are). Once you point out to them that federal law confirms public rights even on steep creeks with portages, they can no longer defend their claim of state by state discretion. Even so, we are always open to review such claims yet again, so if you have anything along those lines, just post it.