Anglers restricted from trout river access amid appeal

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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Private landowners can keep anglers out of streams that flow through their properties as the state’s high court considers an appeal of a judge’s decision to open the areas to the public.

State Judge Derek Pullan nullified the 2010 Utah Public Waters Access Act on Nov. 4, opening access to miles of trout streams. A stay was granted Wednesday amid an appeal by VR Associates, which owns Victory Ranch on the Provo River, the Salt Lake Tribune reported (http://bit.ly/1pgfVeF).

Nathan Thomas, a lawyer for VR Associates, wrote in a court filing that the ruling deprives property rights.

“VRA, other private landowners, the state, and the recreating public are all harmed through a deprivation of their property rights, the right to the benefit of duly enacted legislation, and ambiguity as to the scope of the public’s rights.”

Utah Stream Access Coalition has spent five years fighting the Utah Public Waters Access Act. The group said it was disappointed by the stay, but encouraged anglers to follow it. The group said the recent ruling was not surprising, as the court can err on the side of caution in cases that would mean major changes.

“Respect private property and obey all ‘No Trespassing’ signs. Our actions must continue to be above board,” the coalition posted on social media. “We remain confident in our legal arguments before the court, and we will continue to pursue all means possible to restore and preserve access to Utah’s public rivers and streams.”

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