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H.B. 141 Enrolled






Chief Sponsor: Kay L. McIff

Senate Sponsor: Dennis E. Stowell

             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          .    recognizes a limited recreational floating right on public water;
             19          .    outlines circumstances under which the public may acquire recreational access to
             20      public water on private property;
             21          .    provides a process for the declaration of the right to certain public recreational
             22      access based on historical adverse use;
             23          .    provides for injunctions;
             24          .    addresses the chapter's effect on other uses of public waters;
             25          .    requires a person using a public access area to remove refuse and personal
             26      property;
             27          .    addresses fences across public water; and
             28          .    makes technical and conforming amendments.
             29      Monies Appropriated in this Bill:

             30          None
             31      Other Special Clauses:
             32          This bill provides an effective date.
             33      Utah Code Sections Affected:
             34      AMENDS:
             35          57-14-4, as last amended by Laws of Utah 1997, Chapter 62
             36          73-1-1, Utah Code Annotated 1953
             37      ENACTS:
             38          73-29-101, Utah Code Annotated 1953
             39          73-29-102, Utah Code Annotated 1953
             40          73-29-103, Utah Code Annotated 1953
             41          73-29-201, Utah Code Annotated 1953
             42          73-29-202, Utah Code Annotated 1953
             43          73-29-203, Utah Code Annotated 1953
             44          73-29-204, Utah Code Annotated 1953
             45          73-29-205, Utah Code Annotated 1953
             46          73-29-206, Utah Code Annotated 1953
             47          73-29-207, Utah Code Annotated 1953
             48          73-29-208, Utah Code Annotated 1953
             49      REPEALS AND REENACTS:
             50          57-14-1, as last amended by Laws of Utah 1997, Chapter 62
             52      Be it enacted by the Legislature of the state of Utah:
             53          Section 1. Section 57-14-1 is repealed and reenacted to read:
             54          57-14-1. Legislative purpose.
             55          This chapter's purpose is to limit the liability of public and private land owners toward
             56      a person entering the owner's land as a trespasser or for recreational purposes, whether by
             57      permission or by operation of Title 73, Chapter 29, Public Waters Access Act.

             58          Section 2. Section 57-14-4 is amended to read:
             59           57-14-4. Use of private land without charge -- Effect.
             60          (1) Except as provided in Subsection 57-14-6 (1), an owner of land who either directly
             61      or indirectly invites or permits without charge or for a nominal fee of not more than $1 per
             62      year any person to use the land for any recreational purpose, or an owner of a public access
             63      area open to public recreational access under Title 73, Chapter 29, Public Waters Access Act,
             64      does not thereby:
             65          [(1)] (a) make any representation or extend any assurance that the premises are safe
             66      for any purpose;
             67          [(2)] (b) confer upon the person the legal status of an invitee or licensee to whom a
             68      duty of care is owed;
             69          [(3)] (c) assume responsibility for or incur liability for any injury to persons or
             70      property caused by an act or omission of the person or any other person who enters upon the
             71      land; or
             72          [(4)] (d) owe any duty to curtail the owner's use of his land during its use for
             73      recreational purposes.
             74          (2) This section applies to the relationship between an owner of land and a trespasser.
             75          Section 3. Section 73-1-1 is amended to read:
             76           73-1-1. Waters declared property of public.
             77          (1) All waters in this state, whether above or under the ground are hereby declared to
             78      be the property of the public, subject to all existing rights to the use thereof.
             79          (2) The declaration of public ownership of water in Subsection (1) does not create or
             80      recognize an easement for public recreational use on private property.
             81          (3) The Legislature shall govern the use of public water for beneficial purposes, as
             82      limited by constitutional protections for private property.
             83          (4) The right of the public to use public water for recreational purposes is governed by
             84      Chapter 29, Public Waters Access Act.
             85          Section 4. Section 73-29-101 is enacted to read:


Part 1. General Provisions

             88          73-29-101. Title.
             89          This chapter is known as the "Public Waters Access Act."
             90          Section 5. Section 73-29-102 is enacted to read:
             91          73-29-102. Definitions.
             92          As used in this chapter:
             93          (1) "Division" means the Division of Wildlife Resources.
             94          (2) "Floating access" means the right to access public water flowing over private
             95      property for floating and fishing while floating upon the water.
             96          (3) "Impounded wetlands" means a wetland or wetland pond that is formed or the level
             97      of which is controlled by a dike, berm, or headgate that retains or manages the flow or depth of
             98      water, including connecting channels.
             99          (4) "Navigable water" means a water course that in its natural state without the aid of
             100      artificial means is useful for commerce and has a useful capacity as a public highway of
             101      transportation.
             102          (5) "Private property to which access is restricted" means privately owned real
             103      property:
             104          (a) that is cultivated land, as defined in Section 23-20-14 ;
             105          (b) that is:
             106          (i) properly posted, as defined in Section 23-20-14 ;
             107          (ii) posted as described in Subsection 76-6-206 (2)(b)(iii); or
             108          (iii) posted as described in Subsection 76-6-206.3 (2)(c);
             109          (c) that is fenced or enclosed as described in:
             110          (i) Subsection 76-6-206 (2)(b)(ii); or
             111          (ii) Subsection 76-6-206.3 (2)(b); or
             112          (d) that the owner or a person authorized to act on the owner's behalf has requested a
             113      person to leave as provided by:

             114          (i) Section 23-20-14 ;
             115          (ii) Subsection 76-6-206 (2)(b)(i); or
             116          (iii) Subsection 76-6-206.3 (2)(a).
             117          (6) "Public access area" means the limited part of privately owned property that:
             118          (a) lies beneath or within three feet of a public water or that is the most direct, least
             119      invasive, and closest means of portage around an obstruction in a public water; and
             120          (b) is open to public recreational access under Section 73-29-203 ; and
             121          (c) can be accessed from an adjoining public assess area or public right-of-way.
             122          (7) "Public recreational access" means the right to engage in recreational access
             123      established in accordance with Section 73-29-203 .
             124          (8) (a) "Public water" means water:
             125          (i) described in Section 73-1-1 ; and
             126          (ii) flowing or collecting on the surface:
             127          (A) within a natural or realigned channel; or
             128          (B) in a natural lake, pond, or reservoir on a natural or realigned channel.
             129          (b) "Public water" does not include water flowing or collecting:
             130          (i) on impounded wetland;
             131          (ii) on a migratory bird production area, as defined in Section 23-28-102 ;
             132          (iii) on private property in a manmade:
             133          (A) irrigation canal;
             134          (B) irrigation ditch; or
             135          (C) impoundment or reservoir constructed outside of a natural or realigned channel; or
             136          (iv) on a jurisdictional wetland described in 33 C.F.R. 328.3.
             137          (9) (a) "Recreational access" means to use a public water and to touch a public access
             138      area incidental to the use of the public water for:
             139          (i) floating;
             140          (ii) fishing; or
             141          (iii) waterfowl hunting conducted:

             142          (A) in compliance with applicable law or rule, including Sections 23-20-8 , 73-29-203 ,
             143      and 76-10-508 ; and
             144          (B) so that the individual who engages in the waterfowl hunting shoots a firearm only
             145      while within a public access area and no closer than 600 feet of any dwelling.
             146          (b) "Recreational access" does not include:
             147          (i) hunting, except as provided in Subsection (9)(a)(iii);
             148          (ii) wading without engaging in activity described in Subsection (9)(a); or
             149          (iii) any other activity.
             150          Section 6. Section 73-29-103 is enacted to read:
             151          73-29-103. Declarations.
             152          The Legislature declares:
             153          (1) the Utah Constitution's specific private property protections, including recognition
             154      of the inalienable right to acquire, possess, and protect property and the prohibition on taking
             155      or damaging private property for public use without just compensation, protect against
             156      government's broad recognition or grant of a public recreation easement to access or use
             157      public water on private property;
             158          (2) general constitutional and statutory provisions declaring public ownership of water
             159      and recognizing existing rights of use are insufficient to overcome the specific constitutional
             160      protections for private property and do not justify inviting widespread unauthorized invasion
             161      of private property for recreation purposes where public access has never existed or has not
             162      existed for a sufficient period and under the conditions required to support recognition under
             163      this chapter;
             164          (3) whether, or to what extent, a public easement exists for recreational use of public
             165      waters on private property is uncertain after judicial decisions in the cases of J.J.N.P. Co. v.
             166      State, 655 P.2d 1133 (Utah 1982) and Conatser v. Johnson, 194 P.3d 897 (Utah 2008), which
             167      decisions did not address the constitutional prohibition on taking or damaging private property
             168      without just compensation;
             169          (4) legislative failure to provide guidance before, coupled with legislative inaction

             170      after the 1982 decision in J.J.N.P. Co. v. State form a compelling foundation for the
             171      Legislature to affirm a limited right to float on the water without violating the constitutional
             172      protections of the underlying private property;
             173          (5) the real and substantial invasion of private property rights did not occur with
             174      recognition of the right to float on water that passes over the land, but with the right, first
             175      recognized in Conatser v. Johnson, to physically occupy the land for an indeterminate time
             176      and for a wide range of activities by the public against the owner's will and without just
             177      compensation;
             178          (6) its intent to foster restoration of the accommodation existing between recreational
             179      users and private property owners before the decision in Conatser v. Johnson, affirm a floating
             180      right recognized by the court in J.J.N.P. Co. v. State, and recognize adverse use as a
             181      constitutionally sound and manageable basis for establishing a limited right of public
             182      recreational access on private property in accordance with this chapter.
             183          Section 7. Section 73-29-201 is enacted to read:
Part 2. Recreational Access to Public Water

             185          73-29-201. General access provisions.
             186          (1) The public may use a public water for recreational activity if:
             187          (a) the public water:
             188          (i) is a navigable water; or
             189          (ii) is on public property; and
             190          (b) the recreational activity is not otherwise prohibited by law.
             191          (2) A person may access and use a public water on private property for any lawful
             192      purpose with the private property owner's permission.
             193          (3) A person may not access or use a public water on private property for recreational
             194      purposes if the private property is property to which access is restricted, unless public
             195      recreational access is established under Section 73-29-203.
             196          Section 8. Section 73-29-202 is enacted to read:
             197          73-29-202. Public right to float on public waters.

             198          (1) There is a public right to float on public water that has sufficient width, depth, and
             199      flow to allow free passage of the chosen vessel at the time of floating.
             200          (2) Subsection (1) includes the right to:
             201          (a) incidentally touch private property as required for safe passage and continued
             202      movement;
             203          (b) portage around a dangerous obstruction in the water, if portage is made in a
             204      manner that is:
             205          (i) most direct;
             206          (ii) least invasive; and
             207          (iii) closest to the water; and
             208          (c) fish while floating.
             209          (3) A person exercising the right this section recognizes:
             210          (a) shall enter and exit the water at a point on public property or private property with
             211      permission of the owner; and
             212          (b) may not stop on private property.
             213          (4) (a) The right this section recognizes does not prevent the establishment of broader
             214      public recreational access in accordance with this chapter.
             215          (b) Notwithstanding Subsection (4)(a), the right this section recognizes does not
             216      establish broader public recreational access.
             217          Section 9. Section 73-29-203 is enacted to read:
             218          73-29-203. Establishment of public recreational access.
             219          (1) Public recreational access is established if:
             220          (a) the private property has been used by the public for recreational access requiring
             221      the use of the public water for a period of at least 10 consecutive years that begins after
             222      September 22, 1982; and
             223          (b) the public use has been:
             224          (i) continuous during the season conducive to the recreational access;
             225          (ii) open and notorious;

             226          (iii) adverse; and
             227          (iv) without interruption.
             228          (2) The permissive use of a public water on private property granted by the owner is
             229      not an adverse use.
             230          (3) (a) A property owner's overt act intended to interrupt uninvited recreational access
             231      is a sufficient interruption to restart any period of use that may have already begun under
             232      Subsection (1) if the evidence, taken as a whole, shows that the act came to the attention of the
             233      public or resulted in actual interruption.
             234          (b) If an overt act is established in a final judgment to have interrupted recreational
             235      access, no other person may challenge the existence of the overt act in a subsequent action.
             236          (4) The extent and nature of the public recreational access permitted under Subsection
             237      (1) is determined by the nature of the historical recreational access during the 10 consecutive
             238      years required under Subsection (1).
             239          (5) When a public water is a lake, pond, or reservoir located on a natural stream and
             240      on private property, any portion that has been developed or protected for private hunting is not
             241      subject to public recreational access even though the remainder of the public water qualifies
             242      for public recreational access under this section.
             243          (6) A right of public recreational access on private property, established in accordance
             244      with this section, may not be closed without authorization of other law.
             245          Section 10. Section 73-29-204 is enacted to read:
             246          73-29-204. Quiet title action.
             247          (1) (a) A person, including the division, may file a quiet title action in accordance with
             248      Title 78B, Chapter 6, Part 13, Quiet Title, to obtain a judicial declaration of the existence of a
             249      right to public recreational access under Section 73-29-203 .
             250          (b) The division may intervene in a quiet title action filed in accordance with
             251      Subsection (1).

             252          (c) The division may not be compelled to:
             253          (i) file a quiet title action; or

             254          (ii) join a quiet title action filed by another person.
             255          (2) The claimant in a quiet title action under Subsection (1) shall:
             256          (a) name the property owner of record as a party; and
             257          (b) notify the division of the suit by certified mail no later than 20 days after the day
             258      on which the quiet title action is filed.
             259          (3) Within five days after receiving notice in accordance with Subsection (2)(b), the
             260      division shall post notice of a quiet title action under this section on its Internet website.
             261          (4) A quiet title action under this section shall be commenced within four years after
             262      the day on which a period of prescriptive use ceases.
             263          (5) The burden of proof for a quiet title action under this section is on the claimant to
             264      prove the existence of a right to public recreational access or floating access under Section
             265      73-29-203 by clear and convincing evidence.
             266          (6) A quiet title action under this section is limited to a declaration concerning the
             267      property and property owner joined in the action.
             268          (7) (a) Multiple claimants and multiple property owners may be included in a quiet
             269      title action concerning public water common to the property owners.
             270          (b) In a case with multiple property owners, the court shall make a separate finding
             271      concerning each property owner included in the action.
             272          (8) A final judgment on the merits that a piece of private property is not subject to
             273      public recreational access:
             274          (a) is binding; and
             275          (b) may not be challenged in subsequent litigation.
             276          (9) The court may award attorney fees and costs in an action under this section if the
             277      court finds that the losing party's arguments lack a reasonable basis in law or fact.
             278          Section 11. Section 73-29-205 is enacted to read:
             279          73-29-205. Injunctive relief.
             280          (1) The owner of private property may obtain injunctive relief against a person who,
             281      without permission, enters, remains, or persists in an effort to enter or remain on the owner's

             282      property for recreational use of public water other than use in accordance with Sections
             283      73-29-202 and 73-29-203 , when effective.
             284          (2) An injunction under this section is in addition to any remedy for trespass.
             285          (3) The existence of an easement under Section 73-29-203 is a defense in an action for
             286      injunctive relief under this section or a claim of trespass under other law.
             287          (4) If a person against whom an injunction is sought, or a person charged with
             288      trespass, establishes by clear and convincing evidence the existence of an easement for defense
             289      purposes, as described in Subsection (3), the establishment of the existence of the easement
             290      applies only to the defense and does not constitute a judicial declaration of the easement's
             291      existence for another purpose.
             292          (5) If an owner obtains an injunction against a person under this section, the
             293      injunction does not serve as a declaration that there is no public easement on the owner's
             294      property.
             295          (6) The court may award attorney fees and costs in an action under this section if the
             296      court finds that the losing party's arguments lack a reasonable basis in law or fact.
             297          Section 12. Section 73-29-206 is enacted to read:
             298          73-29-206. Effect of chapter on other uses and restrictions -- Required acts.
             299          (1) Nothing in this chapter affects the right of the public to use public water for public
             300      recreational access, including the touching of the bed beneath the public water if:
             301          (a) the bed beneath the public water is public property; or
             302          (b) the bed beneath the public water is private property to which access is not
             303      restricted.
             304          (2) A person using a public water for public recreational access is subject to any other
             305      restriction lawfully placed on the use of the public water by a governmental entity with
             306      authority to restrict the use of the public water.
             307          (3) Nothing in this chapter limits or enlarges any right granted by express easement.
             308          (4) When leaving a public access area, a person shall remove any refuse or tangible
             309      personal property the person brought into the public access area.

             310          Section 13. Section 73-29-207 is enacted to read:
             311          73-29-207. Fences across public water.
             312          (1) The owner of a public access area adjacent to and lying beneath a public water
             313      may place a fence or obstruction across a public water for agricultural, livestock, or other
             314      lawful purposes.
             315          (2) A fence or other obstruction shall:
             316          (a) comply with an applicable federal, state, or local law; and
             317          (b) be constructed in a manner that does not create an unreasonably dangerous
             318      condition to the public lawfully using the public water.
             319          (3) The owner of a public access area shall allow the placement of a ladder, gate, or
             320      other facility allowing portage around a fence or obstruction if:
             321          (a) the owner places a fence or obstruction across a public water in accordance with
             322      Subsection (1); and
             323          (b) the water is open to public recreational access by permission or under Section
             324      73-29-203 .
             325          Section 14. Section 73-29-208 is enacted to read:
             326          73-29-208. Severability.
             327          If any of this chapter's provisions, or the application of any of this chapter's provisions,
             328      is held to be unconstitutional, the provision is severable and this chapter's other provisions and
             329      applications remain effective.
             330          Section 15. Effective date.
             331          Sections 73-29-203 and 73-29-204 take effect on May 10, 2011.

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