So maybe the game has changed? But I was always of the school that if you find gear and you know the owner of the gear you return it. Or if someone has found my gear and returned it I at least toss some beers in their direction as a thank you.
Last season I lost a Werner Shogun paddle on the West Fork of Clear Creek. Someone found it and contacted me to say that they had found it. I said I would toss him some cash as a thank you. I never heard back from him.
Then just today while training new guides on Clear Creek above Idaho Springs we witnessed a boat floating downstream. We chased down the boat (Jackson Fun) and a pelican case (containing an expensive camera and cell phone) and some foam and float bags. We then drove upstream, found the boaters who lost the gear, drove them back to their shuttle at Lawson (they had both swam and lost their paddles), told them we'd let them know if we found their paddles, and suggested they might bring by some beers for the effort. Nothing.