400+ ON THE CAPITOL STEPS – YOU ARE GRASSROOTS – THANK YOU!
Tuesday, February 11th, we amassed over 400 concerned citizens on the Capitol steps in favor of HB37. Afterwards, we went inside and over a hundred of you stuck around to talk to your Representatives and Senators. We have received considerable feedback indicating how impressive the showing was, and we commend you for your efforts. THANK YOU!
This legislative session we had an opportunity to find the middle ground, and end the stream access fight once and for all. We tried to build a foundation that protects both property rights and the public’s right to use our resource. We strategized, we gave you the tools to be effective advocates, and we played every card we had in the best way we could.
On Thursday, February 20th, our 2014 legislative battle came to an end. In a meeting with House Leadership, we were informed that neither HB37 nor HB233 will leave the Rules Committee this Session. Both bills will die in Committee, as the House Leadership wants to see a ruling from the courts before they address the issue of stream access again. If you have any questions, please direct them to Speaker Rebecca Lockhart or Majority Whip Greg Hughes.
This may seem like a loss – but make no mistake, it was not. As a result of our collective efforts, we have reached more legislators on both sides of the aisle, and gained more support than we ever have before. We have established our cause as an unsettled issue on the Hill. We have grown our membership, our support, and our image. Most importantly, we have shown the power of grassroots efforts to organize and be effective in addressing the injustice of the Public Waters Access Act of 2010 (HB141). We mobilized and built momentum in a magnitude which we never had before. All the while, we did it in an open and honest fashion – with respect and dignity. Your actions are aboveboard, and you should be proud of what you’ve accomplished.
We want to keep building our momentum. For those of you who have made contact with your legislators, stay in contact with them over the summer. Reach out to them after the session, and let them know you appreciate their interest in restoring public access to, and lawful use of, the public waters of Utah. Organizing a small group to meet with your elected officials after the legislative session ends is a great way to keep this issue before your legislators. Invite them to meet with like-minded groups of fellow constituents that feel as you do, to discuss stream access and the challenges in finding the right balance between the public’s right to use its resource and protections for private property owners. Try to educate them on why this is important to you, what it means to future generations of Utahans, and why it’s important to find a lasting solution. Let them know that you will be a responsible steward of your resource, and that you believe in compromise.
It takes courage to speak, and perseverance to be heard. Our membership has proven that you have both of those qualities. Please keep it up. If you have yet to reach out to your elected officials, please do. They will have a great deal more time to speak with you and meet with you after the legislative session ends.
Also, remember that this is an election year. For those of you whose legislators do not support your views, we encourage you to become delegates. Over the summer we will be briefing you on that process so that you can stay involved and help ensure that your elected officials represent your views up on the Hill.
USAC, in the meantime, will press forward with our lawsuits focusing on both the Weber and the Provo rivers. The Provo (Public Waters) case is set for trial this spring, while the Weber (Navigability) case will go to trial this summer or fall. We hope to have decisions from both District Courts in both lawsuits by the time we return to the hill next year.
Finally, please take a moment to thank Rep. Dixon Pitcher for all of his efforts this session sponsoring HB37.
Our fight is not over. We will not stop until we have restored our right to lawfully use our resource, Utah’s rivers and streams. Thank you for your continued support.