My first western fly fishing experience was in Utah. Prior to that I’d been consistently fishing smallish tailwaters and creeks out east, and spent the introductory day wondering why my 8X tippet kept breaking. A smart-assed friend laughed in my face, and handed me some fiver. Ok, now we’re talking. Everyone is still laughing in my face, but I hold Utah waters dear because it reminds me of the self-professed neophyte status I struggle to break out of to this very day.
Sadly, access to those precious Utah resources has been under recent attack, after a little known opinion in the case of Conaster v. Johnson et. al. (pdf) came down from the Utah Supreme Court. That opinion stated with slight uncertainty that state waters are owned by the public. Of course, this ticked off landowners, and since that time there’s been a lot of wrangling (and lobbying) going on to change the laws, which happen to date back to the early 1950s. It’s a classic rich versus poor scenario, but it doesn’t have to be.
Utah Water Guardians, a grassroots organization formed by some Utah-based fly anglers including Bryan Gregson, Corey Kruitbosch, Tyson Skeen, and Nick Granato, has been working hard to preserve the rights of fly-fishers (and other water-based recreation enthusiasts) while also respecting the concerns of private property owners. It’s not an easy task, and they need your support!
The folks at Utah Water Guardians are not lawyers or lobbyists, but they’ve been happily reviewing draft legislation and posting details of those reviews for public consumption both at their site and their Facebook group page, pretty much on their own accord. As it comes down to the wire, however, they’ve engaged professionals in the previously mentioned arenas to assist. That assistance costs money.
If you’ve ever fished (or kayaked or tubed or whatever else can get you wet) in Utah, it’s worth your time (and dime) to lend a helping hand. Read what they have to say. Join their FB group and voice your support. Best yet…click on the donation button, located on the sidebar of this wretched blog’s home page, and show Utah Water Guardians how much you really care about recreational access in the Beehive State.
MG signing off (to book some time fishing Utah waters this spring, and hoping I’ll have access)