House approves resolution limiting wilds designations

A resolution intended to influence Congress and the Bureau of Land Management against further wilderness designations became a blazing wrangle Thursday, with a southern Utah representative calling for Utahns to control federal land in the state.

On a 58-11 vote, the House approved HJR10, which urges Congress not to enact further wilderness designations in Utah "without the unanimous support of Utah's congressional delegation" and urges the BLM not to restrict access to its Utah lands by saying "wilderness characteristics" exist there.

Legislators were worried that further wilderness designations would restrict the use of land for other uses, especially energy development and agriculture. And they scoffed at the promise of riches from tourism and outdoor recreation.

"I remember the joke many years ago of how much money this (wilderness designation) was going to bring to our counties and our rural area, one of the poorest areas in the state of Utah," Rep. Mike Noel, R-Kanab, said. "And the joke was the backpackers come in with a pair of dirty shorts and 20 bucks, they stay there a week and they don't change either one of them. I think that's true."

Party-line vote dooms bill to prohibit ticket quotas

A bill that would have prohibited Utah law enforcement agencies from issuing ticket quotas was stopped in a Senate committee Thursday on a vote that followed party lines.

HB264, sponsored by Rep. Neil Hansen, D-Ogden, would have prevented the act of requiring a law enforcement officer to issue a specific number of citations in a specified time period. Debate on the bill pitted two Ogden legislators against each other as Sen. Jon Greiner, R-Ogden, voiced his opposition to the bill.

Greiner, who is the Ogden chief of police, said that it was not the task of the Legislature to enforce the law and it was inappropriate for lawmakers to "micromanage" law enforcement agencies.

Hansen argued that in some agencies, the number of citations issued by an officer had a direct impact on performance reviews. Hansen said he was proposing the legislation because "it's in the best interest of our citizens."

Plan to require courses to get a boat license fails

Know all the rules of the waterways?

You don't really need to as a bill that would require an online course for a boating license failed in the House on Thursday.

The bill, HB154, sponsored by Rep. Jim Dunnigan, R-Taylorsville, failed on a 28-42 vote.

Rep. Brad Dee, R-Washington Terrace, said he doesn't see why someone like him who has been driving a motorboat for 40 years should have to take a boating education course.

"I'm not real excited about taking another course," Dee said.

Dunnigan said experienced boat drivers cause the most accidents on Utah's waterways.

He said states without boater education have had fatality rates 3.2 times higher than states with programs for more than 20 years.

Water-rights measure that protects trout advances

A Senate committee on Thursday approved HB117, which would allow fishing groups to temporarily lease water rights for the benefit of three native trout species.

The Senate Natural Resources, Agriculture and Environment Committee sent the bill to the full Senate for consideration. Sponsored by Rep. Stephen E. Sandstrom, R-Orem, the bill was approved by the House without a dissenting vote a week earlier.

Speaking before the committee, Sanderson said the bill is "very beneficial ... both to sportsmen and agricultural water users." It's modeled after a successful program in Montana, he said. Under the bill, people with water rights can lease to nonprofit fishing organizations water that would be left in the stream to protect the trout. Species named in the bill are the Colorado cutthroat, the Bonneville cutthroat and the Yellowstone cutthroat trout.

"All water left in a stream in the instream flow is available to the call of the river for downstream users," Sandstrom said, "so it could actually benefit downstream users as well, for keeping the water in the stream."