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Old 05-03-2011   #1
boof512's Avatar
Teacher, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2000
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 308
High Water Closures, 2011 (was "The Poudre")

With all this high water talk I am starting to wonder what our legal right is to float the river if some law enforcement people try and shut her down. Any thoughts on this one?

Also I have paddled the Poudre from just below spencers to BTO in a day.. Anyone want to join me for a spencers to Fort Collins mission? I was also thinking about doing a spencers to Greeley overnighter...
Let me know if that sounds fun!

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Old 05-03-2011   #2
Horserump, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1975
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I'm not a lawyer but I'm pretty sure the sherriff can't shut it down. If he tried he'd get hit with a bunch of suits from the rafting companies. He maybe able to shut it off to tubers
In the 70's and 80's it was a common practice in Colorado to shut down the rivers every spring until one guy in Eagle decided to call the sherriff and tell him where he was taking out and to come on down and give him a ticket. The sherriff did and the guy took it to court and won.

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Old 05-03-2011   #3
Dave Frank's Avatar
Boulder, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1995
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Good topic and good to get various managing agencies thinking about it ahead of time, not jut the poudre.

The city of Boulder shut down the creek sometime around '97. After being contacted by AW, I believe, they backed the close off to single chambered inflatables i.e. tubs a and walmaart rafts.

The real problem and reason law enforcement shouldn't close rivers at high water is that is then implies they are safe at whatever arbitrary level they decide to reopen them, and they could then be supposed liable for implying that anything is safe.

Usually commercial closures happen at a level that all the companies agree on, so they don't have to try to out do each other.

Patrick, how would you feel about your thread being re-titled to something more indicative of the subject?

(seven two 0)-298-2242
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Old 05-03-2011   #4
boof512's Avatar
Teacher, Colorado
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Sure thing I just don't know how to do it. Can you help?
Lets boat this summer! Spencer to Greeley??
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Old 05-03-2011   #5
hojo's Avatar
Lakewood, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1989
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Posts: 1,234
insurance and rescue

Originally Posted by Dave Frank View Post
Usually commercial closures happen at a level that all the companies agree on, so they don't have to try to out do each other.
Dave, it's my understanding that in many cases it's not an agreement by the companies so much as it's a restriction by their liability insurance. Over certain flows their insurance either skyrockets or is refused. Funny how insurance can "close" a river.

I think it's also important to understand why law enforcement tries to close rivers. In many cases, if an individual requires rescue or recovery, the law enforcement accepts the risk of the operation and foots the majority of the bill. I don't blame that motive for closure or restriction.

This is a prime opportunity for AW or a group of local boaters to preempt any action and go straight to the Sheriff NOW in order to start a process.
On the river, I can abandon who I am and what I've done. However brief it lasts, while on the river I am nothing important and everything insignificant. I am flotsam, and happy to be so.
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Old 05-03-2011   #6
FatmanZ's Avatar
NOCO, Colorado
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A fun "day" trip is to start with Upper Rustic (including White Mile), continue through Lower Rustic, a quick portage (shuttle) around the Narrows and lunch, then continue to BTO, keep going, portaging the next two dams, and end at Filter take out. A good 25 +/- mile day.

It would be fun to run from Stevens through the south end of Fort Collins in a day (one long day). Is there a list of all the dams between Filter take-out and S. FTC?
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Old 05-03-2011   #7
boof512's Avatar
Teacher, Colorado
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It's about 38 miles from Spencer to BTO. Then another 15? to town??? I looked at it last year and I think during high water it wouldn't be that bad..It took us about 8 hours at 3.8 feet to run the 38 from Spencer to BTO so I bet at 5+ feet it wouldn't take much longer.
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Old 05-03-2011   #8
Ft Collins, Colorado
Join Date: Apr 2005
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The county sheriff does have the authority to shut rivers, and they do so on occasion. Some years ago, Poudre locals discussed the situation with the Larimer County Sheriff so when they shut the river at high water they still allowed kayakers. I seem to recall that one year we had to register, but I think that was a long time ago.

Thanks to Homeland Security, it's now illegal to portage around the dam at the top of the Filter Plant run. It's well posted, and the park staff enforce this. I don't know how well this is 'patrolled' (we got 'bullhorned' off the river), but you will get ticketed if caught. Yeah, we also thought is was really stupid, but that's the rule and I'm sure it's almost as much of a drag for the guys that are stuck enforcing this stupid rule.
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Old 05-03-2011   #9
Have paddled a Quest
Fort Collins, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1984
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Here is a good synopsis of the law regarding high water closures provided by Nathan of AW a few years back:

High Water Closures
I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I have ended up where I needed to be.
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Old 05-03-2011   #10
Roy's Avatar
Denver, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1993
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 682
Originally Posted by johng View Post
The county sheriff does have the authority to shut rivers, and they do so on occasion.
They can close the river to all craft other than "whitewater canoes and kayaks", which are explicitly exempted from the CO Revised Statute (33-13-111) that provides such authority, except for specific cases which do not include high water.

C.R.S 33-13-111. Authority to close water.

(1) (a) The board shall promulgate rules to prohibit the operation of vessels on any waters of the state and ordering the
removal of vessels from any waters of the state when such
operation constitutes or may constitute a hazard to human
life or safety.
(b) For purposes of this subsection (1), “vessels” shall not
include white water canoes and kayaks
except in the
case of:
(I) A state of disaster emergency pursuant to section
24-32-2104 or 24-32-2109, C.R.S.;
(II) Disaster relief efforts that are underway and that may
include debris removal;
(III) An accident or other emergency occurs in or immediately
adjacent to the water body;
(IV) Rescue efforts for victims are actively underway and
such efforts would be hindered by additional waterway
traffic, or
(V) Active construction or transportation projects
authorized under state or federal law.

I've a suggestion to keep you all occupied...learn to swim!
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