(KCPW News) Governor Gary Herbert signed a controversial bill aimed at protecting private property rights this morning. House Bill 141 prohibits sportsmen from using streams that run through private property, unless they have permission, or the stream has already been used by the public for at least 10 consecutive years. Ted Wilson, the governor’s senior environmental adviser, says Herbert wants to bring anglers and landowners together to reach a compromise. And that means the bill could be revised in the future.
“By getting both sides together, by coming up with new ways to deal with things, we’re looking at a potential amendment to this bill, or even a brand new bill, hopefully that both sides would agree to,” he told KCPW.
In order to reach that compromise, Herbert also signed Senate Bill 281, which creates a task force in the state legislature to study the issue until the end of November.
As the former executive director for the Utah Rivers Council, Wilson has advocated to protect streambed access in the past. He says HB 141 isn’t as damaging to anglers as they might think.
“I’m an angler myself personally, and I like the idea of the anglers having those public-private rights, but I think I understand what the governor’s trying to do here,” said Wilson. “If we can get this taken care of this year, we’ll get rid of the enmity, the emotion on both sides that’s made the process so difficult.”
The bill was intended to reverse a 2008 Utah Supreme Court ruling that opened up all Utah streambeds running through private property to the public.