The ongoing fight over public access to many of Utah’s streams and rivers continues as the Utah Stream Access Coalition asks a judge to issue a summary judgment against the law — created in secret by the legislature — which reverses an earlier state supreme court decision. (From the Salt Lake Tribune):
The nonprofit coalition, which earlier filed suit in Heber City’s 4th District Court against a landowner along the Upper Provo River, has filed a motion asking Judge Derek P. Pullan for a summary judgment, declaring the law unconstitutional.
The law, known as the Public Waters Access Act, generated debate over private property rights versus public access even before it was passed.
In a memorandum supporting its motion, the coalition argues that waters flowing in Utah’s rivers and streams “are and have always been owned by the public and, as such, are public waters.”
The case names ATC Realty Sixteen Inc. as defendant. That California-based entity owns a real estate development in Wasatch County called Victory Ranch that is bisected by five miles of the Upper Provo River, directly upstream of the Jordanelle Reservoir.
In what I’ll gracefully describe as a weasel quote, the state’s attorney general offered only a red herring in defense of this remarkably bad law:
The law arose as a means to balance private property rights with public access, Roberts said. Property owners complained that anglers and boaters would come out of the river channel and trespass on their lands.
“People are walking along the edge of their property. Can they camp out? Can they cook food?” he said. “A number of legislators wanted to give some authority back to the property owners.”
Under the supreme court decision, If they’re not in the channel, they’re trespassing (no, they can’t camp out). In other words, the AG is full of shit.
Cross your fingers for the Utah Stream Access folks on this one…
See you in court, Tom Chandler.