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H.B. 141






Chief Sponsor: Kay L. McIff

Senate Sponsor: ____________

             8      LONG TITLE
             9      General Description:
             10          This bill addresses public use of public waters on public and private property.
             11      Highlighted Provisions:
             12          This bill:
             13          .    makes legislative declarations concerning constitutional protections for private
             14      property and related matters;
             15          .    provides liability protection for owners of private property beneath or adjacent to
             16      public waters;
             17          .    defines terms;
             18          .    outlines circumstances under which the public may acquire recreational access to
             19      public water on private property;
             20          .    provides a process for the declaration of the right to certain public recreational
             21      access based on historical adverse use;
             22          .    provides for injunctions;
             23          .    addresses the chapter's effect on other uses of public waters;
             24          .    requires a person using a public access area to remove refuse and personal property;
             25          .    addresses fences across public water; and
             26          .    makes technical and conforming amendments.
             27      Monies Appropriated in this Bill:

             28          None
             29      Other Special Clauses:
             30          None
             31      Utah Code Sections Affected:
             32      AMENDS:
             33          57-14-4, as last amended by Laws of Utah 1997, Chapter 62
             34          73-1-1, Utah Code Annotated 1953
             35      ENACTS:
             36          73-29-101, Utah Code Annotated 1953
             37          73-29-102, Utah Code Annotated 1953
             38          73-29-103, Utah Code Annotated 1953
             39          73-29-201, Utah Code Annotated 1953
             40          73-29-202, Utah Code Annotated 1953
             41          73-29-203, Utah Code Annotated 1953
             42          73-29-204, Utah Code Annotated 1953
             43          73-29-205, Utah Code Annotated 1953
             44          73-29-206, Utah Code Annotated 1953
             45      REPEALS AND REENACTS:
             46          57-14-1, as last amended by Laws of Utah 1997, Chapter 62
             48      Be it enacted by the Legislature of the state of Utah:
             49          Section 1. Section 57-14-1 is repealed and reenacted to read:
             50          57-14-1. Legislative purpose.
             51          This chapter's purpose is to limit the liability of public and private land owners toward a
             52      person entering the owner's land as a trespasser or for recreational purposes, whether by
             53      permission or by operation of Title 73, Chapter 29, Public Waters Access Act.
             54          Section 2. Section 57-14-4 is amended to read:
             55           57-14-4. Use of private land without charge -- Effect.
             56          (1) Except as provided in Subsection 57-14-6 (1), an owner of land who either directly
             57      or indirectly invites or permits without charge or for a nominal fee of not more than $1 per year
             58      any person to use the land for any recreational purpose, or an owner of a public access area

             59      open to public recreational access under Title 73, Chapter 29, Public Waters Access Act, does
             60      not thereby:
             61          [(1)] (a) make any representation or extend any assurance that the premises are safe for
             62      any purpose;
             63          [(2)] (b) confer upon the person the legal status of an invitee or licensee to whom a
             64      duty of care is owed;
             65          [(3)] (c) assume responsibility for or incur liability for any injury to persons or property
             66      caused by an act or omission of the person or any other person who enters upon the land; or
             67          [(4)] (d) owe any duty to curtail the owner's use of his land during its use for
             68      recreational purposes.
             69          (2) This section applies to the relationship between an owner of land and a trespasser.
             70          Section 3. Section 73-1-1 is amended to read:
             71           73-1-1. Waters declared property of public.
             72          (1) All waters in this state, whether above or under the ground are hereby declared to
             73      be the property of the public, subject to all existing rights to the use thereof.
             74          (2) The public may use a public water for recreational activity if the public water:
             75          (a) (i) is a navigable waterway, as defined by federal law; or
             76          (ii) is on public property; and
             77          (b) the recreational activity is not otherwise prohibited by law.
             78          (3) The public has no right to the recreational use of public waters on private property
             79      to which access is restricted, as defined in Section 73-29-102 , without permission of the
             80      property owner or as provided in Chapter 29, Public Waters Access Act.
             81          Section 4. Section 73-29-101 is enacted to read:

Part 1. General Provisions

             84          73-29-101. Title.
             85          This chapter is known as the "Public Waters Access Act."
             86          Section 5. Section 73-29-102 is enacted to read:
             87          73-29-102. Definitions.
             88          As used in this chapter:
             89          (1) "Division" means the Division of Wildlife Resources.

             90          (2) "Impounded wetlands" means a wetland or wetland pond that is formed or the level
             91      of which is controlled by a dike, berm, or headgate that retains or manages the flow or depth of
             92      water, including connecting channels.
             93          (3) "Private property to which access is restricted" means privately owned real
             94      property:
             95          (a) that is cultivated land, as defined in Section 23-20-14 ;
             96          (b) that is:
             97          (i) properly posted, as defined in Section 23-20-14 ;
             98          (ii) posted as described in Subsection 76-6-206 (2)(b)(iii); or
             99          (iii) posted as described in Subsection 76-6-206.3 (2)(c);
             100          (c) that is fenced or enclosed as described in:
             101          (i) Subsection 76-6-206 (2)(b)(ii); or
             102          (ii) Subsection 76-6-206.3 (2)(b); or
             103          (d) that the owner or a person authorized to act on the owner's behalf has requested a
             104      person to leave as provided by:
             105          (i) Section 23-20-14 ;
             106          (ii) Subsection 76-6-206 (2)(b)(i); or
             107          (iii) Subsection 76-6-206.3 (2)(a).
             108          (4) "Public access area" means the limited part of privately owned property that:
             109          (a) lies beneath or within three feet of a public water or that is the most direct, least
             110      invasive, and closest means of portage around an obstruction in a public water; and
             111          (b) is open to public recreational access under Section 73-29-202 ; and
             112          (c) can be accessed from an adjoining public assess area or public right-of-way.
             113          (5) "Public recreational access" means the right to engage in recreational access
             114      established in accordance with Section 73-29-202 .
             115          (6) (a) "Public water" means water:
             116          (i) described in Section 73-1-1 ; and
             117          (ii) flowing or collecting on the surface:
             118          (A) within a natural or realigned channel; or
             119          (B) in a natural lake, pond, or reservoir on a natural or realigned channel.
             120          (b) "Public water" does not include water flowing or collecting:

             121          (i) on impounded wetland;
             122          (ii) a migratory bird production area, as defined in Section 23-28-102 ; or
             123          (iii) on private property in a manmade:
             124          (A) irrigation canal;
             125          (B) irrigation ditch; or
             126          (C) impoundment or reservoir constructed outside of a natural or realigned channel.
             127          (7) (a) "Recreational access" means to use a public water and to touch a public access
             128      area incidental to the use of the public water for:
             129          (i) floating;
             130          (ii) fishing; or
             131          (iii) waterfowl hunting conducted:
             132          (A) in compliance with applicable law or rule, including Sections 23-20-8 , 73-29-204 ,
             133      and 76-10-508 ; and
             134          (B) so that the individual who engages in the waterfowl hunting shoots a firearm only
             135      while within a public access area and no closer than 100 yards to any dwelling.
             136          (b) "Recreational access" does not include:
             137          (i) hunting, except as provided in Subsection (7)(a)(iii);
             138          (ii) wading without engaging in activity described in Subsection (7)(a); or
             139          (iii) any other activity.
             140          Section 6. Section 73-29-103 is enacted to read:
             141          73-29-103. Declarations.
             142          The Legislature declares that:
             143          (1) the Utah Constitution's specific private property protections, including recognition
             144      of the inalienable right to acquire, possess, and protect property and the prohibition on taking
             145      or damaging private property for public use without just compensation, protect against
             146      government's indiscriminate recognition or granting of a public recreation easement to access
             147      or use public water on private property;
             148          (2) general constitutional and statutory provisions declaring public ownership of water
             149      and recognizing existing rights of use are insufficient to overcome the specific constitutional
             150      protections for private property and do not justify inviting widespread unauthorized invasion of
             151      private property for recreation purposes where public access has never existed or has not

             152      existed for a sufficient period and under the conditions required to support recognition under
             153      this chapter;
             154          (3) whether, or to what extent, a public easement exists for recreational use of public
             155      waters on private property is uncertain after judicial decisions in the cases of J.J.N.P. Co. v.
             156      State, 655 P.2d 1133 (Utah 1982) and Conatser v. Johnson, 194 P.3d 897 (Utah 2008), which
             157      decisions fail to reconcile their respective holdings with the constitutional protections afforded
             158      private property;
             159          (4) in recognition of historical public recreational uses of some private property,
             160      whether by permission or prescription, the Legislature encourages continued permissive use
             161      while officially recognizing prescriptive use, similar to that required to establish a public
             162      highway under Section 72-5-104 , as a constitutionally sound and manageable basis for
             163      establishing a limited right of public recreational access on private property under the
             164      provisions of this chapter;
             165          (5) the judicial decision of J.J.N.P. Co. v. State, 655 P.2d 133 (Utah 1982) is relied
             166      upon in this chapter for the limited purpose of fixing the date on which public recreational
             167      access to public water on private property could have been judicially recognized under this
             168      chapter if preceded by 10 years of continuous adverse use by the public; and
             169          (6) it is necessary to:
             170          (a) clarify and define the foundation and parameters of the public right that can be
             171      created;
             172          (b) provide a process by which a public right may be established and recognized; and
             173          (c) set the date after which evidence of adverse public use is relevant.
             174          Section 7. Section 73-29-201 is enacted to read:
Part 2. Recreational Access to Public Water on Private Property

             176          73-29-201. General access provisions.
             177          (1) A person may access and use a public water on private property for any lawful
             178      purpose with the private property owner's permission.
             179          (2) A person may not access or use a public water on private property for recreational
             180      purposes if the private property is property to which access is restricted, unless public
             181      recreational access is established under Section 73-29-202.
             182          Section 8. Section 73-29-202 is enacted to read:

             183          73-29-202. Establishment of public recreational access.
             184          (1) Public recreational access is established if:
             185          (a) the private property has been used by the public for recreational access requiring the
             186      use of the public water for a period of at least 10 consecutive years that begins after September
             187      22, 1972; and
             188          (b) the public use has been:
             189          (i) continuous during the season conducive to the recreational access;
             190          (ii) open and notorious;
             191          (iii) adverse; and
             192          (iv) without interruption.
             193          (2) The permissive use of a public water on private property granted by the owner is
             194      not an adverse use.
             195          (3) A property owner's overt act intended to interrupt uninvited recreational access is a
             196      sufficient interruption to restart any period of use that may have already begun under
             197      Subsection (1) if the evidence, taken as a whole, shows that the act came to the attention of the
             198      public or resulted in actual interruption.
             199          (4) The extent and nature of the public recreational access permitted under Subsection
             200      (1) is determined by the nature of the historical recreational access during the 10 consecutive
             201      years required under Subsection (1).
             202          (5) When a public water is a lake, pond, or reservoir located on a natural stream and on
             203      private property, any portion that has been developed or protected for private hunting is not
             204      subject to public recreational access even though the remainder of the public water qualifies for
             205      public recreational access under this section.
             206          (6) Private property open to public recreational access in accordance with this section,
             207      other than by the private property owner's permission, may not be closed without authorization
             208      of other law.
             209          Section 9. Section 73-29-203 is enacted to read:
             210          73-29-203. Quiet title action.
             211          (1) (a) A person, including the division, may file a quiet title action in accordance with
             212      Title 78B, Chapter 6, Part 13, Quiet Title, to obtain a judicial declaration of the existence of a
             213      right to public recreational access under Section 73-29-202 .

             214          (b) The division may intervene in a quiet title action filed in accordance with
             215      Subsection (1).

             216          (c) The division may not be compelled to:
             217          (i) file a quiet title action; or
             218          (ii) join a quiet title action filed by another person.
             219          (2) The claimant in a quiet title action under Subsection (1) shall:
             220          (a) name the property owner of record as a party; and
             221          (b) notify the division of the suit by certified mail no later than 20 days after the day on
             222      which the quiet title action is filed.
             223          (3) The division shall post notice of a quiet title action under this section on its Internet
             224      website.
             225          (4) The burden of proof for a quiet title action under this section is on the claimant to
             226      prove the existence of a right to public recreational access under Section 73-29-202 by clear
             227      and convincing evidence.
             228          (5) A quiet title action under this section is limited to a declaration concerning the
             229      property and property owner joined in the action.
             230          (6) The court may award attorney fees and costs in an action under this section if the
             231      court finds that the losing party's arguments lack a reasonable basis in law or fact.
             232          Section 10. Section 73-29-204 is enacted to read:
             233          73-29-204. Injunctive relief.
             234          (1) The owner of private property may obtain injunctive relief against a person who,
             235      without permission, enters, remains, or persists in an effort to enter or remain on the owner's
             236      property for recreational use of public water.
             237          (2) An injunction under this section is in addition to any remedy for trespass.
             238          (3) The existence of an easement under Section 73-29-202 is a defense in an action for
             239      injunctive relief under this section or a claim of trespass under other law.
             240          (4) If a person against whom an injunction is sought, or a person charged with trespass,
             241      establishes by clear and convincing evidence the existence of an easement for defense
             242      purposes, as described in Subsection (3), the establishment of the existence of the easement
             243      applies only to the defense and does not constitute a judicial declaration of the easement's
             244      existence for another purpose.

             245          (5) If an owner obtains an injunction against a person under this section, the injunction
             246      does not serve as a declaration that there is no public easement on the owner's property.
             247          (6) The court may award attorney fees and costs in an action under this section if the
             248      court finds that the losing party's arguments lack a reasonable basis in law or fact.
             249          Section 11. Section 73-29-205 is enacted to read:
             250          73-29-205. Effect of chapter on other uses and restrictions -- Required acts.
             251          (1) Nothing in this chapter affects the right of the public to use public water for public
             252      recreational access, including the touching of the bed beneath the public water if:
             253          (a) the bed beneath the public water is public property; or
             254          (b) the bed beneath the public water is private property to which access is not
             255      restricted.
             256          (2) A person using a public water for public recreational access is subject to any other
             257      restriction lawfully placed on the use of the public water by a governmental entity with
             258      authority to restrict the use of the public water.
             259          (3) Nothing in this chapter limits or enlarges any right granted by express easement.
             260          (4) When leaving a public access area, a person shall remove any refuse or tangible
             261      personal property the person brought into the public access area.
             262          Section 12. Section 73-29-206 is enacted to read:
             263          73-29-206. Fences across public water.
             264          (1) The owner of a public access area adjacent to and lying beneath a public water may
             265      place a fence or obstruction across a public water for agricultural or livestock related purposes.
             266          (2) A fence or other obstruction shall:
             267          (a) comply with an applicable federal, state, or local law; and
             268          (b) be constructed in a manner that does not create an unreasonably dangerous
             269      condition to the public lawfully using the public water.
             270          (3) The owner of a public access area shall allow the placement of a ladder, gate, or
             271      other facility allowing portage around a fence or obstruction if:
             272          (a) the owner places a fence or obstruction across a public water in accordance with
             273      Subsection (1); and
             274          (b) the water is open to public recreational access by permission or under Section
             275      73-29-202 .

Legislative Review Note
    as of 2-8-10 8:58 AM

Office of Legislative Research and General Counsel

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