Monday, January 20, 2014

2014 Legislative Preview: Public Water Access

Representative Dixon M. Pitcher will introduce House Bill 37 (HB 37) during the 2014 legislative session.  The bill seeks to make sweeping changes to the Utah Public Water Access Act.  Under the bill, "public access water" would be defined as a stream that in its natural state during ordinary high water is capable of (1) floating cut lumber six feet in length and six inches in diameter; (2) floating a commercial commodity; or (3) being navigated by a watercraft propelled by oar, paddle, or motor.  The bill would completely repeal several code sections of the current Act and replace them with new code sections.  These new statutes would provide that public access water at or below the ordinary high water mark would be open to public use for lawful activities that utilize the water, including boating, fishing, swimming, and wading.  The bill would limit members of the public from crossing private property to get to the public access water, but would allow the public reasonable portage across private property to avoid obstructions in the waterway.  The bill would also allow the property owner to fence across the waterway, so long as the fence complies with law and does not create an unreasonably dangerous condition to those using the waterway, and provided that the property owner allow public users to use a ladder, gate, or other mechanism to portage around or over the fence.

To read the full text of HB 37, as introduced, click here.

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