People v. Emmert

In People v. Emmert, 198 Colo. 137, 597 P.2d 1025 (Colo 1979), Colorado's constitutional provision, nearly identical to the Montana provision, was interpreted as having the opposite effect. Id. at 1026. The Emmert Court held that the constitutional provision was primarily intended to preserve the historical appropriation system of water rights on which the irrigation community in Colorado was founded. Id. at 1028. The Colorado Supreme Court declined to extend a recreational right to the public in waters on private lands, citing the common law rule that one who owns the surface of the ground has exclusive right to everything above it. Id. at 1030.