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Old 12-31-2009   #1
 
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GJ Sential Article - River Access bill before CO Legislature

Curry bill would keep river rights-of-way in public hands
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Old 12-31-2009   #2
 
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Good for Kathleen! I sincerely applaud her for introducing this legislation. It's time to secure the right to float in CO once and for all. On the other hand, if it goes the wrong way it could seriously damage CO's river guiding industry and our access to a lot of fun sections - which currently rely on the relatively loose precedent. I hope to see AW heavily involved in organizing support for this - as well as you all. This will be our chance to secure floating rights.

Curry's switch from Dem. to Independent likely means she can get more done! Unfortunately, it also very likely means that she'll only be able to serve the rest of her term - about one year - and then not be eligible to run again. I believe loosing her representation will be a loss for us in central and western CO and I'm sad to see her step down as chair of the House Agriculture, Livestock and Natural Resources Committee.

Here's another recent article on her switch from Dem. to Ind.:Gunnison state rep changes from Dem to unaffiliated - The Denver Post

Overall, this bill is great news - as long as it goes the RIGHT way.
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Old 12-31-2009   #3
 
Golden, Colorado
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Sounds great. I'd rather have it in black and white, whichever way it goes.
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Old 12-31-2009   #4
 
Park City, Utah
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Sounds great. I'd rather have it in black and white, whichever way it goes.
Hell no.. If this goes pro land owner, it could close rivers like the arkansas through the numbers, large tracts of the poudre, large tracts of the colorado, most of the boating around aspen, etc... While having a win on this issue is huge, a loss would be bad!!
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Old 12-31-2009   #5
 
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How could this really go that bad? Even if the bill gets killed, that doesnt set precedent either way as a court ruling would. As the law is now, the rich landowners will always get their way because they will fight you in court till you run out of money and can no longer afford legal counsel.

Hopefully she will write the bill to fill in all the holes of what is considered legal. Can you stop in eddies? Can you touch the bottom? Is high water mark considered the boundary, etc. If written wrong, it could lead to more confusion than there is now.
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Old 12-31-2009   #6
 
Park City, Utah
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You're right. The upside for legislative clarity is huge. As noted in the same article, the land owner interests are also well healed and huge. It would be a remarkable trajedy if the public was banned from large tracts of western rivers as many landowners would like. This is an important fight and she has my full support. Does anyone know if a copy of the draft legislation is out there?
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Old 12-31-2009   #7
 
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So I just rode the bus from Gunnison to CB with one of the local raft company owners who's business is threatened by a landowner on the Taylor determined to ban them from floating a section that they have been operating on for 20 years.

The main thing they need right now is money - he told me that it will cost $1 million to get this on the ballot (if passed by both houses of congress). SO if you know anyone with deep pockets that understands how tremendously important this issue is to Colorado's economic well being then suggest they get involved (I could put them in touch with the right people). Conversely, the guy on the Taylor trying take away our rights to float on a public resource is like one of the 350 richest men on earth. He's used to getting his way whether its right or not.

One detail: From what I've heard, this legislation will apply to rivers with HISTORICAL COMMERCIAL USE, not every waterway in the State.
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Old 12-31-2009   #8
 
Golden, Colorado
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...
One detail: From what I've heard, this legislation will apply to rivers with HISTORICAL COMMERCIAL USE, not every waterway in the State....
Ouch. A law that clarifies access for rivers with historical commercial use doesn't really interest me. That doesn't cover much territory in Colorado. I'd be a lot more interested in a law that clarifies access everywhere but I guess I can see why they would take their approach... it will be a LOT easier to pass if they don't have to worry about fighting every rancher in the state with a creek running through their property. All they have to worry about is one megarich guy on the Taylor. I love that he is from Texas. That is just perfect.
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Old 12-31-2009   #9
 
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I guess I can see why they would take their approach... it will be a LOT easier to pass if they don't have to worry about fighting every rancher in the state with a creek running through their property.
You nailed it. The proponents wanted to include all rivers but were told (not sure by who) that passing such a bill was likely impossible. Realize that coming from me - an outsider on this issue this is all just hearsay and opinion. Bottom line - we will all need to get behind this when the time comes - hopefully it will get to a statewide vote and we can put the issue to bed.
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Old 12-31-2009   #10
 
Durango, CO
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It is interesting to note that the current Colorado Supreme Court ( they would hear this case because they are the water experts in the judiciary ) is a more activist court than in 1979. The fact that they now consider recreational instream flows as a beneficial use and have set precedent for this use, and that as an state with appropriation water policy the water belongs to the people of Colorado ( private property owners don't own the water flow in the stream) until it's put to beneficial consumptive use, provokes a very interesting argument. Red McCoombs (Wolf Creek) has been throwing his wealth around for years, and he still hasn't got what he thinks he's paid for. Appropriation Policy is fascinating. You can legal claim water on someone elses property miles away from you as long as you are the first to use it, file on it and adjudicate it, versus Riparian Policy which is, if it's on your property it's yours in effect. I hope Mr. Shaw does drag this into the courts. Rich Texans don't always get what they want.
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