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."