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R657-56 – Recreational Lease of Private Lands for Free Public Walk-in Access

KEY: wildlife, private landowners, public access

Date of Enactment or Last Substantive Change: October 24, 2011

Notice of Continuation: None/new rule

Authorizing, and Implemented or Interpreted law: 23-14-18; 23-14-19; 57-14-1

R657-56-1. Purpose and Authority.

Under the authority of Sections 23-14-3(2), 23-14-18, and 23-14-19, this rule provides the procedures, standards, and requirements to administer a Walk-In Access program in the State of Utah designed to compensate private landowners for leasing private property for the purpose of allowing free public access for wildlife dependent recreation.

R657-56-2. Definitions.

(1) Terms used in this rule are defined in Section 23-13-2.

(2) In addition:

(a) "Base rate fee" is the minimum payment that a landowner is eligible for excluding all bonus payments.

(b) "Contiguous" means parcels of real property that share a common property line and are otherwise connected as a single mass, excluding parcels that adjoin only at corners.

(c) "Landowner association" means a landowner or group of landowners of private land organized as a single entity for the purpose of applying for and becoming a WIA property.

(d) "Landowner association chair" means an individual designated by a landowner association as their representative.

(e) "Landowner association member" means an individual landowner participating in the landowner association.

(f) "Private landowner" means any individual, partnership, corporation, or association that possesses the legal right on private property to grant a recreational lease.

(g) "Recreational lease activities" mean wildlife dependent recreation limited to fishing, hunting or trapping as provided in the wildlife dependent recreational lease agreement.

(h) "WIA" means walk-in access.

R657-56-3. Walk-In Access Landowner Enrollment Procedures.

(1) A private landowner with eligible property may participate in the WIA program provided they submit an application to the appropriate division office by June 30, with the following information:

(a) evidence of property ownership, or if leasing the private property a copy of the lease agreement; and

(b) county recorder plat maps or equivalent maps, dated by receipt of purchase within 30 days of the initial or renewal enrollment deadline, depicting boundaries and ownership of all property enrolled in the WIA.

(c) the private landowner's signature.

(3) two or more landowners with contiguous properties may join together to form a landowner association provided the combined properties meet the minimum requirements in R657-56-5.

(4) Application forms are available at the appropriate division office.

R657-56-4. Walk-In Access Recreational Lease Agreement.

(1) The division and private landowner shall prepare and agree to the terms in a WIA recreational lease agreement by July 1.

(2) Terms in the WIA recreational lease agreement shall include private landowner and division responsibilities, including the provisions in Sections R657-56-8 and R657-56-9, and compensation necessary to provide free public access for wildlife dependent recreational activities on private property.

(3) The amount of compensation paid to the private landowner participating in the WIA program shall be determined by:

(a) the type of wildlife dependent recreational lease activity allowed on the private property;

(b) the duration of the recreational lease agreement; and

(c) the number of acres of private land or pond, or miles of stream or river available for free public walk-in access.

(4) Upon mutual agreement, the division may provide habitat improvement, materials, or labor on the WIA property in lieu of all or part of the monetary compensation otherwise due for free public walk-in access.

(a) If habitat improvement, materials, and/or labor are provided by the division then the duration of the agreement shall be determined upon mutual agreement and based on the divisions cost estimate for the project.

R657-56-5. Walk-In Access Program Requirements.

(1) Private property enrolled in the WIA program must provide suitable habitat that can support the wildlife dependent recreational lease activity described in the WIA recreational lease agreement, and:

(a) contain no less than an 80 acre contiguous block of land for hunting or trapping;

(b) contain no less than a 40 acre contiguous block of wetland or riparian land for hunting or trapping;

(c) contain a minimum of .25 miles of stream or river;

(d) contain a minimum 5 acres of pond;

(e) the property provides an access corridor to comparable tracts of isolated public land or fishing waters open to free wildlife dependent recreational activities.

(2) If two or more landowners are joining private property to form a landowner association for the WIA program the property must:

(a) contain no less than a 320 acre contiguous block of land for hunting or trapping;

(b) contain no less than a 160 acre contiguous block of wetland or riparian land for hunting or trapping;

(c) contin a minimum of 1 mile of stream or river.

(3) No land parcel may be included in more than one WIA.

(4)(a) Division personnel shall evaluate proposed WIA property to determine if the property provides suitable wildlife or fish populations and habitat for the designated recreational lease activity.

(b) The property must be capable of independently maintaining the respective species and harboring them during the period of the designated recreational lease.

(c) If the property is approved for the designated wildlife dependent recreational lease activity, the division and private landowner may enter into the WIA recreational lease agreement as provided in Section R657-56-4

R657-56-7. Walk-In Access Compensation.

(1) The amount of compensation payment to a landowner is determined by the acreage or miles of stream used for the WIA program and the type of recreational activity allowed on the private property.

(a) Payments to a landowner association will be issued to the WIA landowner chair who will be responsible for disbursement of funds to other participating landowners.

(b) The landowner association will receive a base rate fee for the qualifying property and activity in addition to a bonus of 25% of the base rate.

(2) A bonus fee will be added to the base rate fee when a private landowner enrolls private property in the recreational lease agreement for additional consecutive years as follows:

(a) five percent will be added for two years; or

(b) ten percent will be added for three years; or

(c) fifteen percent will be added for four years; or

(d) twenty percent will be added for five years.

(3) Upon mutual agreement, the division may provide habitat improvement, materials, or labor on the WIA property in lieu of all or part of the monetary compensation otherwise due for free public walk-in access.

(a) Employees of the division will provide evaluation of the property for habitat improvement.

(b) A habitat project proposal must be completed, reviewed, and approved through the divisions Habitat Council, Blue Ribbon Fisheries Council, or the Watershed Restoration Initiave.

(c) The division and the private landowner will agree to the duration of the agreement based on the estimated value of the habitat project as determined by the division.

R657-56-8. Walk-In Access Program Landowner Responsibilities.

(1) Each private landowner enrolled in the WIA program must provide:

(a) free public walk-in access for wildlife dependent recreational lease activities as provided in the recreational lease agreement; and

(b) private land with suitable habitat that can support the recreational lease activity; or

(c) an access corridor to comparable tracts of isolated public land open to free public access for wildlife dependent recreational activities.

(2) Each private landowner must indicate the type of landowner authorization required for the public to use the WIA for wildlife dependent recreational activities as follows:

(a) WIA authorization is the only requirement to access the property;

(b) registration at a WIA site is required prior to accessing the property; or

(c) contacting the landowner is required prior to accessing the property.

(3) The private landowner must transfer to the division, the recreational lease of their property for the wildlife dependent recreational lease activities designated in the WIA recreational lease agreement.

R657-56-9. Walk-In Access Program Division Responsibilities.

The division shall provide:

(1) evaluations of habitat, wildlife or fish on the proposed WIA property as provided in Section R657-56-5;

(2) WIA recreational lease agreement forms;

(3) WIA authorization program;

(4) WIA registration forms and boxes when applicable;

(5) maps, requirements, and signs for enrolled WIA property as provided in the recreational lease agreement; and

(6) law enforcement during applicable wildlife dependent recreational activites; and

(7) compensation payments to landowners following successful completion of the terms of the WIA recreational lease agreement.

R657-56-10. Termination of Walk-In Access Recreational Lease Agreement.

(1) The WIA recreational lease agreement may be:

(a) terminated for any reason by either party upon 30 days written notice; or

(b) amended at any time upon written agreement by the landowner and the division.

(2) If a WIA recreational lease agreement is terminated as provided in Subsection (1)(a), prior to the ending date specified in the recreational lease agreement, the compensation fee shall be prorated based upon the recreational lease activity provided and the number of days that access was provided.

(3) Restriction of public use by the landowner of the private property enrolled in the WIA program in violation of the recreational lease agreement may void all or a portion of the WIA recreational lease agreement.

(4) Any change in private land ownership of enrolled WIA property may terminate the WIA recreational lease agreement.

(5) Misrepresentation of enrolled private property in the WIA program shall terminate the WIA recreational lease agreement.

(6) If a habitat project is provided by the division and the landowner terminates the contract prior to the agreed term, the landowner will be required to reimburse the division the value of the project, which shall be prorated based on termination date.

R657-56-11. Liability Protection for Walk-In Access Private Landowner.

Landowner liability may be limited when free public access is allowed on private property enrolled in the WIA program for the purpose of any recreational lease activities as provided in Title57, Chapter 14 of the Utah code.

R657-56-12. Licenses, Permits and Seasons.

(1) Any person accessing WIA private lands for wildlife dependent recreational activities must obtain and possess the required valid license or permit for the recreational lease activity, and must adhere to the respective rules and proclamations established by the Wildlife Board.

(2)(a) If enrolled WIA property requires prior private landowner authorization or any other requirement as provided in the recreational lease agreement, any person entering enrolled WIA private lands for wildlife dependent recreation must comply with said requirements.

(b) The division shall provide to the public maps of approved and enrolled WIA locations and requirements as determined in the recreational lease agreement.

R657-56-13. Walk-in Access Authorization Program (WIAA).

(1) Any person 14 years of age and older must obtain an annual Walk-in Access Authorization registration number to access properties enrolled in the Walk-in Access Program and may be required, while in the field, to prove they have registered.

(2) WIA authorization numbers will be valid from January 1 to December 31 for the year that they are obtained.

(3) To obtain an WIA authorization number, a person must call the telephone number published on-line or on signs available at WIA access points and provide the following information:

(a) combination, fishing, or hunting license number;

(b) license code or type;

(c) name;

(d) address;

(e) phone number;

(f) birth date; and

(g) information about their use of Walk-in Access areas.

R657-56-14. Right to Deny Access.

The division or the private landowner reserves the right to deny a person access to the WIA property described in the recreational lease agreement for causes related to, but not limited to, intoxication, damage to WIA property, violations of conditions provided in the recreational lease agreement, failure to obtain a WIA authorization number, or any wildlife violation committed on WIA property.

R657-56-15. Prohibited Activities.

(1) It is unlawful for any person to access WIA property in violation of the recreational lease agreement, or refuse to leave WIA property when requested by the landowner, a division representative, or a peace officer.

(2) Any person accessing WIA property in violation of Subsection (1) may further be subject to criminal trespass prosecution as provided in Sections 23-20-14 and 76-6-206.

R657-56-16. Walk-In Access Advisory Committee.

(1) A WIA Advisory Committee shall be created consisting of five members nominated by the five division regional supervisors, and approved by the Director.

(2) The committee shall include:

(a) two sportsmen representatives;

(b) two agricultural representatives;

(c) one elected official; and

(d) the division's Wildlife Section Chief, or designee.

(3) The committee shall be chaired by the Wildlife Section Chief, or designee, who shall be a non-voting member.

(4) The committee will:

(a) hear complaints dealing with fair and equitable treatment of anglers, hunters, or trappers on enrolled WIA property;

(b) hear complaints dealing with fair and equitable treatment of WIA private landowners; and

(c) make advisory recommendations to the Director.

(5) The Wildlife Section Chief shall determine the agenda, time, and location of the WIA Advisory Committee meetings.

(6) The director may mitigate or resolve issues dealing with complaints.

(7) Members of the advisory Committee shall serve a term of four years, except members may be appointed for a term of two years to ensure that the term of office are staggered.

(a) The Wildlife Section Chief is not subject to a term limitation.

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