Let me start by saying this: Please take 3 minutes and read this – especially if you spend anytime fishing in Utah (or any other state for that matter). The future of you (and your kids’) access to Utah waterways depends on it.

Majority of Utah’s Rivers = No Access

Sorry to be all dramatic but in the state of Utah, it is currently against the law for the public to recreate (fish, wade, etc.) in public waters that are adjacent to private property. This law severely limits the freedom for not only the residents of Utah, but also to any persons who come to Utah to enjoy our precious streams and waterbeds. Although currently illegal, it is the public’s right to lawfully access and use its public waters in place for any lawful activity, including recreation, allowing the public to reasonably touch privately-owned beds of public waters in ways incident and necessary to such use. This right is defined in Utah’s constitution, and has been upheld by the Utah Supreme Court several times. This topic is an important one for water users all over the country as other states are already facing similar battles. We need to set the precedent now.

Why read this blog post?

In a nutshell, your right to access THE MAJORITY of Utah’s rivers and streams has been taken from you. The good news? NOW may be your last chance to do something about it. In 2014 we are on the offensive with Compromise Bill is HB37, sponsored by Rep. Dixon Pitcher (R-Ogden). It finds compromise between landowners and and water users. This is the best shot we’ve ever had to regain access, and may be the last chance we have. So if you’ve been putting of getting involved and taking action then PLEASE act now and join OSF in supporting USAC’s efforts to see HB37 succeed! You CAN make a difference. I’ll try and boil it down to only what you need to know.

What is HB37?

Utah Stream Access Coalition’s HB37 is all about compromise. It protects landowners and provides the public the right to respectfully access Utah’s waterways for specific uses and within set bounds. Please see the following graphic for a concise summary. A PDF version can be downloaded HERE. You can also see HB37 in it’s fullness HERE.

HB37-summary_USAC-2014-1

Want to help? Here’s how.

Many have been reluctant to get involved. Laziness, complacency, or fear. I’m not pointing the finger because I’ve been guilty of those as well. That being said, it is fear that holds many back from fighting for waters that they, to be blunt, take for granted. I get it. I do. Everyone involved does. USAC, your congressman, your fishing buddies, your mom. We all get that you may not have been involved in anything like this before. I’m here to set your mind at ease. It’s easy. It’s easy to make a difference if you want to. We at OSF invite you to join us (literally) in the movement. Here’s a few ways you can join us and many others.

Non-Residents:

Contact the office of Governor Gary Herbert, his chief legal counsel, and his senior environmental advisor. Tell them to SUPPORT HB37!
+ Utah Governor’s: Gary Herbert – http://governor.utah.gov/goca/form_governor.html
+ Legal Counsel: Jacey Skinner -jskinner@utah.gov – 801 538-1645
+ Sr. Environmental Adviser: Alan Matheson – amatheson@utah.gov – 801-538-1574

Utah County Town Hall Meeting (January 14th!!!)

Legislative District 64 is sponsoring a town hall meeting in order to provide an opportunity to meet with your legislators. You can get the more info HERE. This is the PERFECT time to reach out and IN PERSON. There’s no better way or time to do it. To take more of the nerves out of it OSF and some other local boys like the boys at Blue Halo, SOS FlyFishing, and a bunch of other Utah anglers are going to meet up ahead of time, grab a bite to eat and caravan together. Come join us!

When: The meeting starts THIS TUESDAY, January 14th at 7pm. Come meet up with us at 5:45pm to the Provo Towne Centre Food Court to meet up with a bunch of fishy peeps to get briefed, socialize, and caravan down to the meeting together. You can get more info and directions on the Facebook Event Page.

event-banner

“Opening Day” of the Legislative Session

There will be another rally for support on opening day of the legislative session on January 27th. Details on this event are forthcoming. Please stay posted to our Facebook Page or USAC’s Facebook Page for updates!

Rally on the Courthouse Steps

This is big. For the last few years there have been rallies on the courthouse steps. This year needs to be bigger in every way. The exact date is still unknown but plan on it in February. We need over 500 people there so be ready! Bring your smartphone and/or camera. We’ll need you to blow this out through Instagram, Facebook, etc. Another major momentum builder.

Social Media

This is where we can really use your ongoing help. Here’s a few things you can do:

#Hashtags

Post these images to your social media accounts, bring awareness anyway you can. We can unify our efforts with the use of the following hashtags.

  • #utahstreamaccess -  the tag we will use in all social channels to related to our marketing campaign will use this hashtag.
  • #streamaccess - is the tag we will use in all social channels to tie the campaign to unify the need of public stream access the country.
  • #rallythecapitol - will be the rally hashtag for the USAC rally in February.
  • #voteyeshb37 - will be the universal hashtag for the 2014 USAC bill.
Tagging

Help bring exposure to the cause for the public’s water rights by tagging USAC in your posts/pictures.

Profile/Cover Pics

We’d love to see a wave of supporters changing their profile/cover images on their personal and page accounts. People will surely take notice! Feel free to use these images. Simply right click and “save image as”.

USAC_ad_v3c_FB_BAnner USAC_ad_v3d USAC_ad_v3c USAC_ad_v3c_Instagram_Banner

Talk to your Congressman

This is the scariest part for many. Many don’t know what to say or don’t feel like they’re up to speed. Don’t overthink it! You’re a concerned citizen. You’re simply concerned about the fact that you’re prohibited from accessing over half of the state’s rivers and streams. HB37 is a great compromise to all parties involved. Just talk to them human to human. They don’t expect you to be anything but a normal person. In person is best, calling is great, and emails are a last resort. The first step is to KNOW WHO YOUR LEGISLATORS ARE!!!! You can find them here: http://le.utah.gov/GIS/findDistrict.jsp. To make things easier, USAC has provided some talking points:

TALKING POINTS-SUPPORT HB37_USAC 2014-2

A heartfelt thank you for anyone that takes the time to read this and an even greater thank you to those that decide to get involved. Please let us know if you have any questions or concerns. I’ll end with a few words from a good friend and advocate for the sport of fly fishing and public water use:

“Utah’s waters belong to the people, plain and simple. The Utah Supreme Court has reiterated it time and time again: the public has a right to recreate on and in these waters. My home waters are in Utah, and as the law stands right now I am a criminal if I fish the waters I grew up on. I stand firmly behind the mission of USAC, because they are fighting against a movement that is trying to privatize this public resource, and hand it over to a few wealthy landowners. What happens in Utah influences the rest of the country— People are watching to see what happens here, and that’s why it’s such an important fight to win.

What keeps this same bad legislation from coming to Montana or Idaho? That’s a scary thought. In the words of Bob Marley, it’s time to get up and stand up. “

 Bryan Gregson

About The Author

Chinese Boy
Google+

The ringleader at OSF, Nathan likes well-proportioned fish, moonlit walks by the river, and stripping streamers through dark lies on the dreariest of days. View full bio.

2 Responses

  1. tommy B

    You should lose the Bob Marley from the quote though – This is Utah not Colorado, and you marginalize and label your cause with that one in a non-helpful way…Put on a suit not a tiedye, and you will get a more positive response imho ;-)

    Reply

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