Wrote a letter to the paper, and another to Rep. Tom Massey. Seems like this is the last week to mobilize, as the House is likely to vote on it at the end of this week or early next week. Attaching the letter to the editor, should appear in the Mountain Mail tomorrow or the day after I hope.
Colorado House of Representatives will vote this week on a bill that
could greatly affect Salida's and state-wide economy. The bill is SB
62, titled "Limiting Recreational Water Use." I have not seen any
coverage of it the Mountain Mail, and would like to share some
information about this bill. Note that SB 62 has already passed the
Senate, and other than public input, I am not sure what could stop it
from passing the House.
In most basic terms, this bill states that "recreational in-channel
diversion (RICD) in excess of 350 CFS shall conclusively be deemed to be
wasted, and not placed to beneficial use," a statement then used as a
basis for limiting all water flows related to recreation. 350 cfs is a
one-size-fits-all approach that makes little sense (350cfs on the
Arkansas is dramatically different from 350cfs on the Colorado), and the
bill overrides the notion that RICD's are granted with a "reasonable
recreation experience" in mind. SB 62 also does not consider fishing a
beneficial use, and allows future (junior) water rights to override the
RICD rights. It is really a thinly veiled move to limit any
recreation-related water rights to preserve the future ability to shift
water between different basins. In other words, a front range city
could apply to remove Arkansas water upstream of BV, and not have to
respect our RICD right, since it is recreational.
The two cornerstones of Salida's economy are tourism and construction.
The river is the main draw for tourists, with activities ranging from
whitewater rafting and swimming to fishing, an economy that brought in
$80 million to our county in 2003. Construction has to do with people
moving here because of the quality of life Chaffee County has to offer.
I believe that our county's economy would greatly suffer should SB 62
pass -- just look all the river-related projects happening now: Salida
riverside park, Buena Vista's whitewater park, the South Main
development, FiBArk, and more. What would happen if the river had, at
best, only the minimum amount of water to float a boat?
I urge you to contact our representative Tom Massey today and to ask him
to vote against SB 62. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org
or call him at