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Policy Letters - Utah
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ACA Supports Utah House Bill 37 - Protecting Public Water & Property Rights - 2014

This bill helps restore historical public uses of streams that are capable of floating cut timber or that can be navigated by recreational boats during ordinary high water. It allows wading, walking and fishing in the stream corridor below the ordinary high water mark.

HB37, which is modeled after the laws of Idaho, is being sponsored by Rep. Dixon Pitcher of Ogden, Utah.  If passed by the House and Senate, and signed into law by the Governor, HB37 will replace the current law which curtailed public recreational activities on and in those streams and rivers that traverse privately owned beds. It will remove the threat of criminal trespass citations for water recreationists who touch privately owned streambeds without written permission to do so, and will allow the public to once again use and enjoy its resource – the public waters of Utah.

10 Key Points of House Bill 37

1. H.B.   37 – protects public water and property rights.

2. Protects private property rights: HB 37 does not create new access nor does it take away private property.

3. Protects property rights by restricting the access to travel below the ordinary high water mark.

4. HB37 terminates [2] lawsuits. First against the Act (2010 HB141) itself and the second for navigability on the Weber River. The Weber case could actually take away property from property owners (title to their stream bed) and we do not want that to happen! The Provo Case would take back more waters than are specified in the bill, which is a more limited subset. 

5. Enforce existing laws! Trespassing, damaging property, and littering are all complaints the opposition has made. However, each of those things is already against the law. Enforcement has been the real issue.

6. Landowner liability has previously been a concern. If a fisherman/kayaker/etc. was injured, landowners worried that they were liable. This issue was resolved last year by HB347 (Rep. Brad Wilson)

7. Public dollars are being spent for the few in regards to flood mitigation, stocking of fish, dams and culinary infrastructure. However, the public is not allowed to use the resource. Why give property owners any taxpayer assistance from flooding when they chose to purchase on a waterway that is inaccessible to the public?

8. HB37 restores access to valuable recreation infrastructure, our rivers and streams, and builds a foundation to foster sound economic impact to rural regions and the outdoor industry.

9. Preserving access to outdoor recreation protects the economy, local business, and communities. At least 82 percent of Utah residents participate in outdoor recreation each year that generates $12 billion in consumer spending, produce $3.6 billion in wages and salaries, delivers 122,000 jobs, and creates $856 million in state and local tax revenue in Utah alone.

10. Water is a natural resource and should be able to be enjoyed by all recreation users.

 

 

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