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Who owns the rivers?

February 27, 2014

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Who owns the ground underneath a river? And should it contain a public easement — like a sidewalk?

HB 37 would give more access to the public to the beautiful lakes and rivers of Utah. It will allow access to fish, boat, kayak, swimming, etc. on sections of a river that — at this point — are considered “private” and off limits for public citizens.

Back in 2010, Utah lawmakers limited access for anglers and other river enthusiasts to only the water itself when it flows through private property. Current law provides that if you are fishing on water that runs through private property, you cannot stand on the riverbed or even turn your boat upstream. You are also prohibited to stand on the side of the river. HB bill 37 would allow more access to the public to these vital waterways.

Private property owners are concerned because allowing more access to the public increases the risk of abuse. Damaging, littering and polluting these private sections of river are a big concern. Not only for small sections of a river, but for all rivers and lakes. The real issue is the enforcement of the existing laws to help and alleviate some of the concerns of private property owners.

Some believe that more enforcement of the current laws regarding our lakes and rivers is all that is needed.

HB 37 would create some positive solutions immediately; two current lawsuits would be rendered moot. Also, the public would likely be more open to assisting private residences with funding when flood damage occurs. As of now people, ask why taxpayers should assist private property owners who do not grant public access.

Can someone claim rights to a section of water — or is it for all to enjoy? Everybody wants clean, fresh and unpolluted waters to use and enjoy. Compromise is at the heart of the issue. From the beginning of time, anything done upstream affects the quality downstream. Finding a middle ground where citizens can enjoy all the beauty that this state has to offer while private property rights are respected is what HB 37 is designed to accomplish.

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From → 2013 Interim

One Comment
  1. Sandra Mountcastle permalink

    Another infringement on the rights of individuals. Can’t you guys find more important things to spend your valuable time on?

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