Sunday, February 22, 2009

Vote No HB 187

Congratulations to the Utah angling community, you showed up this past Wednesday. For as long as I can remember, it’s a first in my lifetime here in Utah. If you not familiar with HB 187, it’s a piece of legislation in response to last years Supreme Court ruling that gave anglers access to virtually all bodies of moving water in the state. This Bill, in its current state, will negate the ruling and more critically remove waters that generations have had the opportunity to fish.


Wednesdays rally on the steps of the Capitol was just the beginning. There is still a tremendous amount of work ahead for anglers, floaters, and non-consumptive users of our waterways if we are to have an impact on HB 187 and the waters we will be able to fish in the future.


For those who don’t reside in Utah, HB 187 will limit the waters you will be able to fish as well, waters that you’ve had the opportunity to fish when you visited our beautiful state. For some, those rare and unique waters are the reason you visit Utah. If you are one of these anglers, your voice needs to be heard as well; write our Governor and Ben Ferry the sponsor of this Bill. In reality, this piece of legislation will have an impact on all water users across the nation, due to the fact that it and other like it set precedence.


So where are we? On Friday HB 187 went to committee for its first reading. The throngs of concerned citizens overflowed chambers. Another room had to be set up to accommodate the growing numbers. It was awesome! The Natural Resources Committee was obviously taken back by the numbers that were in attendance. After long deliberation and a number of amendments were added the Bill passed 10-4, a distinct party line vote. Several bodies of water that had been left off the list were added: Blacksmith Fork and the Logan most notably, but there are still numerous bodies of water that you won’t be able to fish. Left Fork of the Huntington, Cottonwood Creek, Thistle, Creek, East Fork of the Sevier, just to name a few of those most known.


The Bill passed and now moves to the House, the fact that concessions were made shows that our efforts are having an impact but, there are still significant flaws with the Bill. Of these the most egregious pertains to definition of navigability and its relationship to the list; the list being a limited number of waters, 16 at this juncture that we’ll have access to. Rather than applying an acceptable definition of navigability. First off, HB 187’s definition is not reasonable. Second, an arbitrary list of waters was selected to which the definition was applied. Instead, all waters of the state should have been considered and tested for navigability, not just those where the minimal private property conflicts occurred. Blacksmith Fork and the Logan are examples of the erroneous of the process. Regardless, on no waters have they actually tested the current definition, they’ve just assumed.


With luck we’ll be able to get the Bill into interim. In talking with members of senate this past week, they would like to see this happen. One way or another, we’re going to have to deal with the oversights of the Supreme Court. Since were engaged, we might as well finish the process, it just needs to take a year to effectively draft a Bill that will address such a critical issue.


As we move forward, if you haven’t contacted your representative, it’s imperative that you do. You also need to contact the Natural Resources Committee. HB 187 has been assigned to this committee. Some of its members are very influential legislators and can have a significant impact on the Bill’s future.


To read a copy of the Bill or to find contact information on the committee and representatives, visit “Utah Water Guardians” website. You’ll find their link in my links section. It’s important to note that any e-mails you send put “Vote No on HB 187” in the subject header. They have received so many e-mails, that they don’t have time to read nor respond to them all, so putting this in the subject header is very important.


Regardless of where you are, if you care about fishing, this is your fishing future. What happens here is important to the rest of the nation. They aren’t building any more trout streams, steelhead or salmon rivers, or oceans. You can either sit by and watch those who have the resources continue to take away your access or you can get involved and be apart of preserving those fishing opportunities you, your children and future generations have the right to enjoy.

5 comments:

Hoss said...

Thanks for the detailed update.

winstonjim said...

House adjourned today and did not get to HB 187. It should be first to go tomorrow morning at 9:00 AM. You can stream the audio or the video here: http://www.le.state.ut.us/

awshucks said...

Not all streams are navigable-in- fact and therefore not all streams are public. Similarly, not all land is public, we still have private property in this country.
Utah has thousands of miles of navigable rivers and thousands of miles of streams on public land. Even with this passage of this bill, there will be no shortage of angling opportunities in Utah.

awshucks said...

Not all streams are navigable-in- fact and therefore not all streams are public. Similarly, not all land is public, we still have private property in this country.
Utah has thousands of miles of navigable rivers and thousands of miles of streams on public land. Even with the passage of this bill, there will be no shortage of angling opportunities in Utah.

Steve Schmidt said...

The Supreme Court did not use a definition of navigable, neither did Conatser; the case the Supreme Court ruling was based up. Originally HB 187 had a definition of navigable, but it was removed. A new definition now exists similar to Idaho access law.

What we are asking for is a reasonable list of waters based upon the states classification of rivers and streams. From those waters apply a specific critera to be consistent, where it be navigable or whatever. As it stands now, the current list of 17 was selected based upon random opinion.

We all agree that not all waters should be accessible. Also, look at this from a landowners perspective; the randomness of selection puts one landowners on waters were access is granted and others where it's not. What does that do for those private property owners whose waters have been randomly left off the list or on the list. There are other aspects of this Bill that are also troublesome, but the nature by which waters were either left off or selected given whats at stake for all parties is simply not just.