In case you missed our news update from earlier this year, we continue to await a decision from the Supreme Court in the Utah Stream Access Coalition v. VR (Victory Ranch) Acquisitions, LLC. We expect a decision in the next 3 months.
If we get a favorable decision, we will likely go back to the District Court for further proceedings on the Coalition’s claim that the Public Waters Access Act (PWAA) is unconstitutional. If the Supreme Court’s decision is unfavorable, this case will be over, and the PWAA will stand. Under the latter scenario, our only recourse will be to convince the Legislature to repeal or change the PWAA.
In the meantime, our rights to use Utah’s public waters will be limited to navigable waters, such as the upper Weber River, and waters on public lands. Based upon evidence it has already collected, assembled, and turned over to the State, the Coalition hopes to expand the list of Utah’s navigable waterways to eventually include another dozen or so of our larger rivers and streams where the evidence shows they were used for commercial purposes before Utah became a State.
Stay tuned for more information. Thank you, as always, for your continued support.
First, Fly Fisherman Magazine published Cullen Battle’s article entitled “A Failed Stream Access Bill in Utah” in their Oct – Dec 2022 issue which gave the Utah Legislature an “F” in their “Stream Access Report Card.” Brian Anderson, Vice Chair of Utah Trout Unlimited (UTU), and longtime ally of USAC, reached out to Fly Fisherman to see if they might have some spare copies of that full issue available. Fly Fisherman shipped him a couple hundred copies and Brian and Herbert Ley, USAC’s VP and Director, distributed the donated copies to every single Utah Representative and Senator, several other key Executive Branch officials, and other interested stakeholders towards the end of the 2022 Legislative Session.
“We got lawmakers’ attention, and interest is very high in resolving stream access, thanks in huge part to providing Fly Fisherman magazine to lawmakers,” Brian Anderson, Vice Chair of Utah Trout Unlimited said. “The unique message delivery plus a related 2023-session bill (House Bill 0208, or HB 208) kept stream access at the top of committee agendas and in the forefront of legislators’ minds. The result was that powerful, high-ranking leadership in both legislative chambers pulled USAC members aside into private conference to invite collaboration on future legislation to address stream-access to improve Utah’s ‘F’ grade.”
Though it’s been signed into law, Utah HB 208 was a “mostly innocuous” bill that sought to emphasize existing trespass laws in Utah’s stream access statute.
Flylords digital media group has been following along in the headlines and social media activity surrounding Utah’s waterways, public access, and ongoing court cases for quite some time. They familiarized themselves with the issues surrounding public waters access and became committed to helping USAC increase its audiences and awareness.
For the month of April, Flylords is featuring USAC with a spotlight interview on their platform to share a comprehensive perspective of why our organization was formed, what we have done, and where the fight for stream access in Utah stands. Our own Herbert Ley, provided the responses and insight into the issues and background. Anyone looking to educate themselves, refresh their memory, and/or feel inspired will find this spotlight valuable.
Give the links below a read and share them out to anyone and everyone you know. USAC is very grateful for the coverage and increase in awareness from audiences at home as well as on a nationwide scale.