Tenkara USA is largely founded on philosophical principles, primarily: simplify your gear to enjoy the experience (no need to be weighed down by extra stuff), and protect our waters. It can be argued that forming the basis of these principles is the explicit need for public access to fishing waters, that is the only way that people can connect with nature and in turn enjoy the experience so many of us love, and finally feel compelled to protect these waters.
Thus, here is an important issue brought up by tenkara angler, Erik Ostrander, a Utah resident, on our blog:
Many of you are aware of the Utah Supreme Court decision on July, 2008 that gave back the public’s right to access public water ways – whether they flow on private or public lands. This was a huge win by fisherman across the state. Since then, the legislature has been trying to resolve the issues that have come up from that decision every legislative session. This year there are two bills HB-80 and HB-141. Please, please contact your Utah representative and ask them to vote FOR HB-80 and AGAINST HB-141. I have attached my e-mail to my representative at the bottom
For those of you outside of the state I’m not sure who you would send your comments to, but please let them know that this legislation might affect your decision to spend tourism dollars in Utah – we’ve got to make people know there is more money to be made through greater access.
Link to HB-80’s text: http://le.utah.gov/~2010/htmdoc/hbillhtm/HB0080.htm
Link to HB-141’s text: http://le.utah.gov/~2010/bills/hbillhtm/hb0141.htm
Link to “How to find your representative”: http://le.utah.gov/house/DistrictInfo/NewMaps/State.htm
Below is a summary of the two bills:
HB-80 (Rep Fowlkes) – GOOD:
*Went through and open, public process involving multiple parties
* Provides education which will drive accountability
* Clarifies the unanimous Supreme Court Conaster decision
* It strengthens protections for landowners by defining the easement clearly, limits liability for landowners, increases trespassing penalties, and requires the public to be educated on the easement if they are going to use it.
* It benefits the public by defining the easement clearly recognized by the Supreme Court, allows for portage around man-made obstructions in streams
* It also clearly recognizes two competing rights and fairly balances those rights
HB-141 (Rep Mciffs Bill) – BAD:
* Repeals the Unanimous Supreme Court Decision – Conaster
“Line 78: (3) The public has no right to the recreational use of public waters on private property
Line 79: to which access is restricted, as defined in Section 73-29-102 , without permission of the
Line 80: property owner or as provided in Chapter 29, Public Waters Access Act.”
* No public process
* It makes no attempt to balance the rights of private property owners and the public
* It is no attempt at a compromise in these competing rights.
This is my e-mail to my representative:
I’m emailing you to ask for your continued support on HB-80. I believe this bill to be a good clarification and support of the Utah Supreme Court decision that was made in the Conaster decision. HB-80 supports the public in a constitutionally granted right to access public waters – whether or not they fall on private or public land. I believe that the education provided as a result of section 73-6a-202 exemplifies the public’s desire to respect public waters on private lands, and the bill offers land owners protection from lawsuits by section 73-6a-201. I believe HB-80 to be a good definition of the law that supports both land-owner rights and the public’s rights.
Conversely, I would like to ask for your vote against HB 141 which is un-constitutional in it’s blatant disregard for the Supreme Court of Utah. HB 141 takes away all access to public waters that flow on private lands – that’s over 14,000 miles of water ways that will be stolen from the public. HB 141 would support the last several decades of unfairly compensating land owners at the public’s expense – compensation that is granted by restricting access to the public. Not allowing the public on these river beds is immoral and wrong. Simply put, it is stealing away a constitutional right.
I urge you, please fight for the tens of thousands of recreators in Utah that would like their rights protected by HB-80.
Thank you very much for your help,
Resident, District 30