To: Dean Sanpei, Ken Ivory, Eric Hutchings, Brian King, John G. Mathis, Curtis Oda, Lee Perry, Val Peterson, Paul Ray, Larry Wiley,
Subject: Why Support HB37?
Date: Tue Feb 18 22:27:32 MST 2014
Access to public waters in Utah is key to our quality of life. I am a member of the local Trout Unlimited Chapter (TU) and a Lifetime Member of the National TU Organization. TU organizations around the country have conservation as one of their primary objectives. Before moving to Utah, I was a member of the Idaho Falls TU chapter. This chapter raises more than $20,000 or so each year and puts nearly all of it into conservation projects to restore rivers, streams, and other environmental projects in South Eastern Idaho. One example is Rainey Creek Diversion where the Chapter has contributed $118,000 over several years to assist the Idaho Fish and Game in improving spawning habitat on the Snake River.
In Utah, the High Country Fly Fishers is the TU Chapter I have affiliated with. This much smaller chapter also raises several thousand dollars each year (although much less that the Idaho Falls Chapter) for conservation projects also. One of our annual conservation projects is willow planting along the banks of the Strawberry River. We work with staff of the Utah DNR, Justin Robinson, to stabilize the river channel and reduce the sediment flowing into the reservoir each spring during high water runoff. Reducing the sediment includes reducing phosphorous that is responsible for the late summer algae blooms. There are four other TU Chapters in the Northern Utah Region that support similar Conservation Projects.
We believe that we are representative of most users of the Utah Streams and Rivers. We act responsibly, we clean up after ourselves, and we clean up after others. Our club has an annual cleanup day on the middle and lower sections of the Provo River where we look for and remove the trash left behind by a few other users.
During previous legislative sessions, action was taken to restrict public access to public waters for a variety of reasons. We believe those actions were not in the broad public interest.
HB37 is intended to be a compromise to prior legislation which was unduly restrictive.
Here are a few points regarding the compromise legislation:
- The compromise language protects private property rights because it does not create new access and does not take away private property.
- Private property rights are protected by restricting access and travel to below the ordinary high water mark.
- By adopting this compromise language, we would end 2 lawsuits: one against the current law (2010 HB141) and one to establish the navigability of the Weber River. Importantly, the Weber case could actually take away property from property owners (i.e., title to their stream bed) and we do not want that to happen! The Provo Case would open up access to more waters than are specified in the compromise (i.e., streams that won't float a 6" diameter, 6' long log).
- Trespassing, damaging property, and littering are complaints the opposition has made over the years to preclude public access, but all of these things are already against the law. The real issue is lack of enforcement. We believe existing laws should be enforced!
- Landowner liability has previously been a concern. If a fisherman or kayaker, etc., was injured, landowners were concerned that they might be liable. This issue was resolved last year by HB347 (Rep. Brad Wilson).
- Public dollars are being spent for flood mitigation, stocking of fish, dams, and culinary infrastructure, yet the public is not allowed to use the resource it owns. Why give property owners taxpayer assistance from flooding when they chose to purchase land on a waterway, which the public can't utilize?
Have a Nice Day!
Heber City, UT