Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Sold up the River

"I don't take away 5,000 miles of public rivers often, but when I do I prefer to give them to private interests that include my brother-in-law. Stay wealthy my friends."

- The Most Mysterious Governor in the World

No Access

I penned the above satire today after confirmation that Utah Governor Gary Herbert (R) signed HB 141 into law. This legislation flies in the face of Utah's outdoor heritage, which has roots in over 100 years of history.

Wilford Woodruff, the man who oversaw Utah's statehood, was a fly fisherman circa 1847. He took to nearby rivers frequently, and recognized the importance of water in a desert landscape. The State's constitution was drafted with specific protections, explicitly proclaiming that water resources were owned in their entirety by the public.

An easement allowing recreation to take place on the public's waters - even where rivers and streams cross private land - has been upheld all the way to the Utah Supreme Court (Conatser v. Johnson, 2008).

Wealthy private interests (including Governor Herbert's brother-in-law) stand to profit from the privatization of these valuable resources. By wielding influence, back office politics, and the all-mighty dollar HB 141 is now a reality.

If you live in Utah and do not own waterfront property, your rights have been sold up the river. I urge you to review the voting records and determine how your representative voted. Individuals voting "YEA" sided with the money, and have placed Utah's $700 million recreation industry at risk during the biggest recession of modern times.





  1. Anymore, it's the status quo for our elected officials...self-serving and corrupt.

    The days of representing those that put you in office are long gone, and now it's all about "what's in it for me?"

    The principles that this country were founded on are long gone, and this is yet one more example of the decline of this great country.

  2. I believe a lawsuit challenging the law inasmuch as it amends the state constitution is in order. If that doesn't work...well there's always anarchy.

  3. Colorado: It was an extremely discouraging process to observe first hand exactly how much corruption is involved.

    Hondo: An effort is already underway to take the case before the Supreme Court. A legal team is being assembled as I write this. We believe HB 141 is unconstitutional under section XVII. Unfortunately there will likely be economic consequences for Utah and many of the guides, retailers, and hospitality establishments that depend on recreation-oriented income in the meantime.

  4. I have faith in our elected officials, confident that they have our best interests at heart. Wait, no I don't. Strike that from the record.