Friday, July 18, 2008

Good News For Utah Fishermen and Assorted River-users

Power to the people, right on!

Danged good news for stream fishermen, kayackers and assorted other users of Utah's rivers and streams. The Utah Supreme Court apparently issued a decision today, according to the Salt Lake Tribune, proclaiming that all you folks who spend your summers in search of the wily troutfish, or just navigating Utah's many river watercourses in variously competent floatable devices, can now legally set foot on the "stream bed" of river-adjoining landowners' properties, whenever you dang-well want. Here's the gist, from today's SLTrib web article:
Utahns who fish, float or swim in public streams and rivers may also touch and walk on the beds of those waterways, even when the water flows across private property, the Utah Supreme Court ruled Friday.
In fact, the high court noted that without the ability to touch streambeds, members of the public cannot effectively enjoy their right to recreational activities.
The only caveat, is that water users must behave "reasonably and cause no unnecessary injury to the landowner," the high court ruled.
"It's an exciting decision," said attorney Robert H. Hughes, who argued the case before the high court in April. "I'd call it a landmark decision in the body of law on public waters.
"I think anglers in Utah will be very happy to hear about this."
So here's the deal. If you set foot on the stream bed on some shotgun-toting, trigger happy Morgan County (pick your county) farmer's land... whilst fishing or floating on the Weber River (pick your river)... be sure to have a printed-out copy of Salt Lake Tribune article of today in hand.

We're also sure that this article will spare everybody who's involved with more than a little political grief, and hopefully NOT a volley of buckshot.

Just another helpful post from yer old pal Rudi.

Read the Utah Supreme Court opinion here.

And what say our gentle readers about all this?

Update 7/19/08 11:55 p.m. MT: More on this blockbuster Utah real estate law story from today's Std-Ex. The Utah Supreme court is talking "public easement rights" here, gentle readers, rather than "incidental rights" of folks who use public waterways for commerce. This decision is really "big" for the recreational watercourse rights of Utahns. It'll be most interesting to see where the court cases cases go fom here.

4 comments:

Bill C. said...

I hope this changes lying little matty and leshems notion that gadi will now own the river and can shape and control it and activity with-in the property her owns or has yet to close on.(remember the drawings with designated fishing spots) It also should be sufficiant to not allow his building totally un-natural water features.
Oh, but I forgot, he's broke, and the clandestine high adventure finacier is in prison for almost the rest of his life, unless addled ed allen can conjure up some heavenly intervention.

Jason W. said...

But hold on, Billy:

Despite being one of OTown's biggest Csmokers -- and founder of Lift Ogden -- Addled Dr. Ed is still Good Old (?) Curmudgeon's candidate. Whatta douche. Seriously, doctor, you are an ass. Huge ass. Big 'ol dumpy ass. Jackass.

THE SKI IS BEAUTIFUL BLUE

Curmudgeon said...

Bill:

I don't think the decision will much affect Lesham's Ogden River project plans. It merely creates a public right to come in contact with a river bed while in the process of using a public waterway for recreational purposes [boating, fishing, rafting, etc.] It does not change ownership, as I read it, of the stream bottom. That still belongs to the landowners of each bank. I doubt it will affect a bankside property owner from establishing designated fishing stations on his land if he wants to. And the "totally un-natural water features" you're talking about, as I recall --- presumably things like artificial channeling and barriers to create a kayaking course --- were things the city was planning, not Mr. Lesham per se.

Will be interesting to see if commercial fishing lodges appear along the Weber now --- as they have along good trout streams in Wyoming --- because guests can now access the river up and down stream from the lodge. They still can't use the banksides in any way, but they can use waders to work the steam bed.

We shall see....

In any case, according to the SE recently, Mr. Lesham still has to acquire 20 properties in the River Project Area to move forward with whatever plans he has. And I don't think I've seen anything recently indicating that he's acquired all of the parcels he needs to put together the Wal-Mart property yet either. Been a while since we heard anything about that, hasn't it?

The fate, of late, of projects "projected" but not yet begun has not been good. Be interesting to see whether anything happens on Lesham's River Project plans anytime soon.

This is, though, a significant revision in Utah water law as I understand it. [No expert.] And is a classic instance of the court trying to balance the public good on the one hand against a private right on the other. There will be much more litigation to come, to establish in particular instances just what this recent decision means in a practical way.

Wade said...

Personally I am stoked about this. I was once a youngster growing up in Uintah on the banks of the Weber river.

I remember one occasion where a buddy and I had walked a bit too far downstream. I don't know how familiar you all are with having to walk back up stream in the river but it's no easy task.

So we climb up on the bank and start walking upstream when all the sudden this lady is yelling and waiving her arms like a crazy women ordering us back into the river.

I was too young at the time to fully understand property rights etc... but what a bunch of S##%@.

POWER TO THE PEACEFUL!!!!!!!

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