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I just received this from AFTA (American Fly Fishing Tade Association).
American Fly Fishing Trade Association > News



(UTAH) River-access bill is a disaster

By Frank Hugelmeyer

Published: Wednesday, March 24, 2010 12:13 a.m. MDT

One of the great moments in the life of any sportsman is that special introduction of a son or daughter to the wonders of the great outdoors. Millions of young outdoor men and women have been thrilled as they learned about the skills and secret fishing holes passed down over generations. This wholesome tradition has brought families closer together and become deeply ingrained in our Western values. Over time, sportsmen and their children's children fueled the emergence and growth of a $700 million angling industry within Utah that has become vital to the economic health of the state and many communities. Tragically, a new law recently passed by the Utah legislature threatens it all.

Most Utahns do not know about — or even realize — the severity of the situation. In one week, more than half of the premier fisheries within Utah may close. Utah HB141 places an immediate one-year moratorium on all land access to and on rivers and streams crossing private land. While the rights of private property owners are obviously important, Utahns, like citizens in other Western states, have had a long-established public easement for river access to enjoy hunting, fishing and other recreational activities. This new legislation brings an unceremonious and abrupt end to generations of riparian access.

For reasons not fully transparent, the Utah Legislature hastily approved a bill that radically changes river access law without collaborating with sportsmen, angling outfitters or outdoor businesses. The impact of this bill will prove to be particularly devastating to the angling business communities statewide. As Utah's summer tourism season begins, access to sections of nationally renowned waters like the Provo and popular local waters such as the Weber, Ogden, Logan, Blacksmith Fork and Huntington, among many others, will disappear. HB141 will have a severe and lasting impact on local businesses still struggling to recover from the recession. Job losses will be noticeable as visiting anglers choose to spend their valuable dollars in neighboring states that boast exceptional and open access to high-quality fisheries like Idaho, Montana and Colorado.

The fate of generations of Utah's outdoor sportsmen and businesses now rests in the hands of Gov. Gary Herbert. Only his veto can preserve the public's access to these venerable rivers and streams and ensure Utah's national competitiveness as a sportsmen-friendly state. For Utah's sake, let us trust that Herbert will choose to support the generations of anglers that have befriended these great waters and protect the quality jobs in outdoor businesses that depend on public easements to exceptional rivers and streams.

Frank Hugelmeyer is the president & CEO of the Outdoor Industry Association
 

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There is nothing good about this. First law suit will wind up in the supreme court. I just hope to not be the first one. This was hatily passed as a retaliatory shot. There was actually a relatively well written collaborative bill that was shot down by landowners. The fisherman have definitely taken the bigger hit on this one. For the most part, the places where you will find river runners are unaffected. Luckily there aren't many first D's left in this state. Here is the EF link to local discussion etc.
HB 80 defeated - HB 141 being debated today - EddyFlower Forum
 

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pathetic

I corresponded with my representatives about this issue and it was clear that they didn't understand the history of public access but rather voted on the sound bite of real estate lobbyists. Also disturbing is the fact that many of the legislators own or have an interest in riverfront property throughout the state. Of those representatives with conflicted interests, each voted against public access.

As both a fly fisherman and kayaker, I will be forced to choose other places to recreate this summer than I had originally planned. I don't see this being overturned in a long time. Most of the representatives are elected year after year without any challengers. Legislation like this is a disease that could spread to other states; everyone should take time to voice their opinions to their representatives about issues like this.
 

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I corresponded with my representatives about this issue and it was clear that they didn't understand the history of public access but rather voted on the sound bite of real estate lobbyists. Also disturbing is the fact that many of the legislators own or have an interest in riverfront property throughout the state. Of those representatives with conflicted interests, each voted against public access.

As both a fly fisherman and kayaker, I will be forced to choose other places to recreate this summer than I had originally planned. I don't see this being overturned in a long time. Most of the representatives are elected year after year without any challengers. Legislation like this is a disease that could spread to other states; everyone should take time to voice their opinions to their representatives about issues like this.
Actually, to the extent that the legislation is an actual or a constructive restriction on the constitutional ambit of the right to recreate as determined in Conatser, it will be unconstitutional. Senator Stowell has stated that Conaster did not address the constitutional ambit. That is obviously incorrect. It will now be a matter of those in Utah to consider bringing a declaratory action if they think that the effect will be as the opponents of the bill are predicting. I am not sure. On the face of it the bill is not as dramatic as the opponents indicate. However, the mechanisms, particularly for determining public recreational access, could prove to be so onerous that they may not work.

As an aside, if a bill in the form of HB141 was introduced in Colorado the rafters and fishermen would be ecstatic. So it shows just how far back in antiquity Colorado is when Utah inhabitants consider HB141 is the spawn of the devil.
 

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I find no indication Governor Herbert has yet signed this bill.

Here is a link to send a comment to the Governor's office.

http://www.utah.gov/governor/contact/index.html

We can rant all we want, but public input does carry weight. If you care about river access anywhere, please send the governor your views.

Time to put all this connectedness to use!
 
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