(KCPW News) Only one of two competing bills on streambed access remains after the Utah House of Representatives voted down the proposal favored by anglers, boaters and sportsmen Monday. Representative Lorie Fowlke reprimanded those who argued that her bill would impinge on private property rights.
2I don’t know about you, but I committed my arm to the square to protect the constitution, not only private property rights,” she said. “I believe private property rights are paramount. But I raised my arm to protect the constitution of this state and of this country. And private property rights are not the only rights in that constitution.”
Fowlke said yesterday’s debate was akin to a “parade of horrors” with comments that she believes were flatly false, unfounded or highly unlikely. Her bill was the result of nearly a year of meeting with stakeholders. She sought to balance the public’s right to access Utah streams with private property owners’ rights after a Supreme Court ruling opened all of Utah’s streambeds to recreationists.
Representative Ben Ferry, who was unsuccessful last year in getting a similar bill passed, said Fowlke has lost sight of the real issue at stake: The court’s taking of private property without reimbursement.
“This bill has got it so deep in the forest that they forgot who are the people we are trying to balance the needs of,” said Ferry. “The private property owner received nothing in this bill, from my perspective. Yeah, they put lipstick on a carp. But that’s about all this bill does.”
The other streambed access bill this session is Representative Kay McIff’s House Bill 141, which does have the support of property owners. However, debate on the bill is on hold to give McIff more time to reach an agreement on a proposed amendment to his legislation.