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Old 06-15-2004   #11
Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 81

The Cop must think he is making a judgement call. Thinking it will save lives be telling you that the chutes are closed down. Honestly there would have to be a law or ordince passed for him to enforce it. He is just trying to be the judicator which is not his job, take the ticket go to court and get it dissmissed. Remeber federal and state law is on our side not his.

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Old 06-15-2004   #12
Golden, Colorado
Join Date: Apr 2004
Posts: 831
My wife and I got written up a few years ago at the chutes by a fat Douglas County sheriff's deputy. We were scouting from the left riverbank and he about had a stroke screaming at us to get over to the right bank where he was parked on the road.

He yelled at us and told us not to touch the riverbank and wrote us citations for trespassing. He was a rude SOB, but I could see his point because there were signs everywhere. However, I was teaching my wife to kayak and my first safety rule is don't paddle into something if you can't see it or if you don't know where your safety eddies are. He wasn't willing to listen to my position: it is ok to touch a private riverbank to scout or walk around a hazard and it is possible for logs to catch in the chutes and my wife was not good at eddying out so I wanted her to look for logs from the bank.

I don't remember the fine, but it was almost $1000 each and he said we'd have to pay it if the owner wanted to press the matter. We never got a summons and I never heard back, so we didn't pay any fines.

When he left he said, "I've gotta go. I got a call for another trespass by kayak down at the confluence." He was a loud redneck and I thought it would have been satisfying to stab him in the throat with my river knife but that would have horrified my wife and gotten me life in prison. He was not very careful about his personal safety. Apparently, he has been made complacent by the good manners of the kayakers he writes up.

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Old 06-15-2004   #13
Amsterdam, Netherlands
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 272
many moons ago there was a KMart raft/tubber accident on that section and some kids died. i don't remember when but I'd guess about 10 years ago. same type of thing that happened on Bear Creek that prompted the "no fun" falls signage.
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Old 06-15-2004   #14
Boulder, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1987
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 45
Originally Posted by Ture
He wasn't willing to listen to my position: it is ok to touch a private riverbank to scout or walk around a hazard
Your position is not correct in the state of Colorado.
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Old 06-15-2004   #15
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Englewood, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1978
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 882
That is correct - in Colorado you cannot touch the banks or bed, period, if it is private land. In a civil suit, you could assert the defense of necessity to defend your trespass, though. However, most of access issues I read about are all related to criminal trespass (People v. Emmert, the infamous AG opinion, Sportsman's Paradise, etc.). In a criminal case, if you meet the elements of the crime, you'll be found guilty.

It sounds to me like the LEO involved was outside of his authority. IIRC, the signs at the Chutes only prohibit parking and swimming, no? In the absence of a statute prohibiting boating there, you can boat there. I guess if you swam out of your boat, you could be cited, though.

Seems like this isn't the first time there have been this type of encounters (where the cops try to enforce a law that doesn't exist or doesn't apply to the situation) with the LE guys out in the South Platte valley. I believe CRC2 says that the cops near SP took a "laissez-faire" attitude toward the harrasment of boaters there, stuff like dirt being shoveled onto boaters as they passed under bridges. Boy I love the West...
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Old 06-15-2004   #16
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Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 331
I almost want to go run the SP from the chutes to the confluence over and over and over. We need a good BS ticket to get a court ruling in our favor and set the sheriff straight. ps... I hate redneck law enforcers.
"So in two seconds, away we went, a sliding down the river, and it did seem so good to be free again and all by ourselves on the big river and nobody to bother us." -Mark Twain (The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn)
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Old 06-16-2004   #17
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Durango, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1999
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 580
Who owns the land on the left bank of the chutes? I thought that the Denver Water Board owned almost all that land down there. The DWB doesn't seem to have a problem with people recreating on their land in other areas down there. I guess technically it is tresspassing, but it seems just like Corps of Engineer land, it is essentially public land. Any thoughts?
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Old 06-16-2004   #18
Have paddled a Quest
Fort Collins, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1984
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 102
OK, so here's the scoop. One of our club access gurus called the Jefferson County Sheriffs Office and talked to the deputy involved. Here is the e-mail that I got describing the conversation:

I called the Jeffco Sheriff and actually got a return call from the deputy involved, Deputy Sensano. Sensano says he has worked the Chutes area for 15 years. He said he was concerned because the kayakers were sitting in the pool and not boating through the chutes. When I asked him why that was a problem, he didn't really have an answer, except to say that "the waters are closed". Sensano told me he has no problem with kayakers floating through the chutes, but was concerned the kayakers were sitting in the pool of what he says is "closed water". When I pointed out to him that it is legal to float this water and there is a statutory provision that excludes kayakers and whitewater canoes from closure orders, he said he was aware that law. He then said that they were touching the banks. When I pressed him on this it turns out that the instructor may have put his hand on a streamside rock or may have been grabbing on to a streamside bush. Sensano said that he wasn't going to use that to justify a trespass charge. Everyone stayed in their kayaks. Sensano said that he is a kayaker and understands people can float the Union Chutes. He said the incident was "no big deal" to him. I told him from a kayaker's perspective it is always a concern when someone with a badge threatens criminal prosecution. It sounds like the other thing going on was that some people who wanted to swim were asking why the kayakers were allowed to be in the "closed water."
And here is the section of the Colorado Revised Statues which makes it clear that kayaks and whitewater canoes are exempt from this particular closure:

33-13-111. Authority to close waters.

Statute text

(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 whitewater 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.

(2) Any parks and recreation officer or other peace officer as defined in section 33-10-102 has the authority to enforce the provisions of this section under the rules promulgated by the board.

(3) Any person who fails to obey an order issued under this section is guilty of a class 2 petty offense and, upon conviction, shall be punished by a fine of one hundred dollars.
So you cannot be fined for just floating in the eddy even though it is closed to swimming. However, if the deputy is standing right there, it might be prudent not to hang out in the eddy unless you have to for safety reasons. I haven't boated this section but from what I have read and heard the land on river left is private and has been a sore point in the past.
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Old 06-16-2004   #19
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 388
Thanks much to the CWWA, President Mark Robbins, and the access gurus for the prompt action and getting to the bottom of this!

This is a good example of a reason to support the organization.
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Old 06-16-2004   #20
Join Date: Jun 2004
Posts: 1

Just curious... If we can't touch the banks, how do we put in and take out? I was considering taking my fiance there to learn the ropes, but I don't want to get us fined! It would seem that the banks along the bicycle trail would be ok to take out at. I always see people hanging out along the banks there on the sand bars. Is this the river left bank we are talking about? Thanks for any info.

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