Last week American Whitewater informed Utah members that a landmark legislative battle is playing out in Utah regarding the rights of paddlers to traverse the state's rivers. A 2008 court case clarified that existing Utah law supports the public's right to fish and paddle rivers, including the right to touch the bed and banks. In response, legislators have sought to pass new laws that redefine the rights of the public.
The bill that was the most reasonable and least damaging to paddlers (House Bill 80
), stream access bill, failed in a house floor vote yesterday. HB80 had been amended, and then substituted with another version of the bill that changed key elements, especially the definition of the "bed" of the stream. The vote was not even close, 23 (yes) - 50 (no) - 2 (absent).
Another bill has emerged as extremely anti-paddling (House Bill 141
). HB141, the "anti public access bill", is moving ahead even though it has been substituted and circled on the House floor. The vote was 50 (yes) - 25 (no) - 0 (absent). This bill seeks to undermine the previous State Supreme Court decisions for public access to rivers.
Please look up
and call your representative, and/or the representative for the rivers that you paddle and let them know that you are strongly opposed to HB141.