Daily DrakeUSAC HB37

USAC HB37It’s been 10 days since the Utah legislative session kicked off and paralysis in the house has taken hold, with HB37 still buried in Rules Committee deliberations today.

The compromise bill supported by the 3,300 member Utah Stream Access Coalition (USAC), as well as like-minded anglers across the country, would allow access and travel below the ordinary high water mark on Utah streams and rivers, while effectively killing two lawsuits: one against the current law (2010 HB141) and one to establish the navigability of the Weber River.

According to jittery members of the house, “controversy” has stymied the bill in rules. But optimism for a vote count crowbarring remains intact. USAC spokesperson Chris Barkey says, “vote count wise we have a 28 to 14 advantage right now on the floor.” The bill needs a total of 38 votes to shake the house and move toward the sentate. If the bill or a compromise is torpedoed, on the other hand, it’ll be up to the courts to render a final decision on Utah stream access.

“This is the last time we bring compromise language to the table,” Barkey says. “Legislators know if we don’t pass HB37, it’ll be up to the attorneys, the lawsuits, and the courts.”

Ex-Utah House Rep. Laurie Fowlke chronicles the precedent-setting debate and what’s at stake in today’s Standard-Examiner. She says: “Unlike many hot-ticket issues, this one is not defined by partisan politics. You can find individuals from both sides of the aisle on both sides of this issue. The division appears to be based more upon one’s feelings about an individual’s rights to private property versus the public’s right to public property, which in this case, is public water. These public and private rights collide when the public water flows over the private property.”

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Tom Bie

Tom Bie is the founder, editor, and publisher of The Drake. He started the magazine in 1998 as an annual newsprint publication based in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. He then moved it to Steamboat, Colorado (1999), Boulder, Colorado (2001), and San Clemente, California (2004), as he took jobs as managing editor at Paddler, Senior Editor at Skiing, and Editor-in-Chief at Powder, respectively. Tom and The Drake are now both based in Denver, Colorado, where The Drake is finally all grows up(Swingers, 1996) to a quarterly magazine.

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