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21 Envtl. L. xxix (1991)
Prior Appropriation 1848-1991

handle is hein.journals/envlnw21 and id is 29 raw text is: IN MEMORIAM
As has been so widely reported, Prior Appropriation passed
away last month at the age of 152. Prior was a grand man and led
a grand life-by any standard he was one of the most influential
people in the history of the American West. It is a tall order but,
with these few thoughts, I will try to recount his life, to assess
some of his accomplishments and some of his shortcomings.
The story of Prior's birth has been told so often that it has
become part of the bedrock of western history-how, on January
26, 1848, James Marshall, literally shaking with exhilaration just
moments after his epic discovery of gold, came upon a babe on his
mad rush back to Sutters Mill to spread the news. The child was
so young that he must have been left by the side of the American
River that very day. And although all the leading botanists deny
that the species ever existed in the Sierra Nevada foothills, the
legend persists that Marshall found the infant Prior wrapped in a
blanket nestled in the bullrushes.
* Moses Lasky Professor of Law, School of Law University of Colorado.
For the past several years, perhaps because he has remained so faithful to his
childhood pledge to outlive the bastards, Tom Simmons of Water Watch of Ore-
gon has been keeping a close eye on the failing health of Prior Appropriation. A
good year ago, Tom asked me to think about putting together a fitting eulogy for
Prior. When the recent event occurred, Tom suggested that the banquet on Feb-
ruary 22, 1990 held in connection with the Water Watch-Northwestern School of
Law Water Symposium might be the appropriate occasion on which to deliver a
eulogy. I thank him for that invitation and would like to dedicate this piece to
Audrey and Tom Simmons with the hope that their sweet love might last as long
as the one that is part of this eulogy.

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