Utah HB 187 "Recreational Use of Public Waters"
came up for a vote today, and after a contentious and dramatic floor debate, the poorly written, complex and anti-angler bill was DEFEATED
34 Yes to 41 NO!
and all water users WIN
The right to use public waters by touching privately owned streambed incidental to recreation that was clarified in the unanimous Utah Supreme Court ruling has been kept intact!
It was truly amazing to watch on live streaming video and to see just how little the Pro bill people knew about the main issues. Even a longtime venerable lawyer who argued a water rights case in the USSCt (and lost, today) made absolutely no sense whatsoever in advocating for the bill.
The issue should have centered around the recreational USE
of Public Water, as was ruled unanimously in its favor in the Conatser Utah Supreme Court last July. However, the sponsor, House Rep Ben Ferry, tried, unsuccessfully in a number of ways, to define the issue as one of private property rights takings and recreational ACCESS
of Private Land.
It is likely a new Recreational Use of Public Waters bill will be introduced next year and I will be tracking its progress along the waterway, so to speak, as I want to see a similar bill come up here in Colorado to clarify the Colorado state and Federal laws that currently confuse waterowners, landowners and law enforcement and currently prevent full rights of utilization of stream beds incidental to recreation. After all, the foundational laws provide, since ancient times, that, while there are coexisting private landowner and public waterowner rights, the waterowners rights to use are dominant to the servient landowner rights when it comes to rights of way to "fisheries" or recreation to the highways that are our Colorado state Constitutionally protected public waters.
"A public river, just as a roadway, is a public highway."
This process was one exciting ride!