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Old 04-12-2011   #1
 
Gunnison, Colorado
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Guide Arrested on Taylor River, Colorado

I started to reply to this thread by Slave and Yeti., but it is over 90 days old so I had to start a new thread.


It is just as well, since the issue needs to be kept alive. We have a problem in Colorado where landowners are trying to prevent boaters from traveling on public waterways.

I live in Gunnison, we need to be rafting the middle section of the Taylor ROUTINELY this summer to perserve our legal rights to raft. It is a tragedy that the beautiful section of the river downstream from Harmels has now been carved up into trophy homes, and the new occupants are trying to stop rafters. I rafted the section through Harmels many years ago, despite all the shouting and protests from the A-holes on the banks. Keeping public waterways open to the public will demand vigilance.

And by the way, I own property on the Gunnison River, and it makes my day when fishermen or boaters go by and they give me a friendly wave.
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Old 04-12-2011   #2
 
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As a Colorado native, living in Texas for a year, I can't emphasize fighting this enough. Here in Texas, the second biggest State, there is almost zero public land. No BLM, no Forrest Service, just little tiny "state parks" which are closed for public safety during any reasonable high water event. Hence, even though the waterway rights are the same in Texas as they are in Colorado, the attitude of landowners is that it is illegal. The Barny Fife law enforcement will write tickets and enforce the landowner point-of-view. The prosecuters then refuse to dismiss the tickets and refuse to bring them to court because they will likely lose. This leaves the issue in limbo with landowners dictating river access through intimidation. Paddlers have been held at gunpoint until law enforcement arrives. These are the people moving into Colorado. Fight this shit to the death and give no ground.
Joe
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Old 04-12-2011   #3
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gunnisonriver View Post
Keeping public waterways open to the public will demand vigilance.
Amen. All worthy endeavors in the public policy realm do. Thanks for your good intentions. Given your status as a riverside landowner, you might consider devising a messaging strategy that rebukes the anti-access contingent's false assertion that boaters threaten private property rights. It is absolutely pathetic that with so much conflict going on in the world, individuals that have so much are so hellbent on restricting low-impact recreational use of a public and living resource.
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Old 04-12-2011   #4
 
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Littleton, Colorado
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Thanks for bringing this up again. There's been some scuttlebnut going around lately that the Roberts brothers (owners of Harmel's) intend to press the issue this summer. I've tried to find out the disposition of the tresspassing case against the guide on the Gunny, but haven't been able to find any record in the Sheriff's database. I would suspect that the charge was dropped, but again, I'm not entirely sure.

The Taylor should be coming up into floating range here pretty quick. By all means get out and enjoy it and be sure to contact law enforcement if you're harassed or threatened while doing so. Sheriff Murdy has made clear that he will not tolerate any attempts to harass or intimidate (this goes both ways). If you're confronted, be sure to get a description of the person, the location, and the time and file a report after you take out. Cell phone reception sucks in Taylor Canyon so you may have to drive down to the Almont or 3 rivers to make the call.
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Old 04-12-2011   #5
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Will someone please provide further details so that I, as well as other river runners, might know more about the issue and what we're getting into?

I live in Grand County, but would make a special trip to float the Taylor just to be a part of exercising boaters' rights, and would think that others might do the same.

But, it would be good to know some backstory and what I'm getting into...

Why don't we buzzards organize one hell of a law-abiding-freedom-and-rights-exercising flotilla down there?
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Old 04-12-2011   #6
 
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Originally Posted by RiverCowboy View Post
I live in Grand County, but would make a special trip to float the Taylor just to be a part of exercising boaters' rights, and would think that others might do the same.

But, it would be good to know some backstory and what I'm getting into...

Why don't we buzzards organize one hell of a law-abiding-freedom-and-rights-exercising flotilla down there?
The backstory is that it's a delicate situation down there and both major boating advocacy groups working in Colorado with long track records of obtaining boater access highly discourage a right to float rally. There was someone that tried to organize a right to float flotilla last year and the sentiment among folks that were working on the situation was that there's a lot more to lose than to gain by getting in the landowners' faces right now.

If you think about it you can see that there's a lot of risk involved for the right to float camp. Say someone decides to organize a rally on the internet and Channel 9's there because whitewater boating's always a good lede when the news is coming on and maybe there'll even be some action to boost ratings a little more. A bunch of boaters show up who've never met, someone (maybe even a plant working as a troublemaker for the landowners?) gets way out of hand; drunk and rowdy and makes a scene committing trespass. Chanel 9 gets the shot from the landowner's property or maybe they're at the takeout where the sheriff puts a drunk, combative dirtbag boater in the car while a nicely dressed elderly landowner says politely, "we just want people to respect our private property."

So there's the story that suburban Joe and Jill watch and they get to imagine what it'd be like to have drunks shouting insults & come up on their lawn and moon them as they're playing catch in the kids. Oh yeah, Suburan Joe and Jill may even get to vote on a right to float initiative in 2012 with this in mind.

Sure, out of 100 boaters, we know 99 will probably be civil and represent well but if only one' gets pissed off and lets the world know it, who do you think will make the news?

Its an issue we all feel passionately about but need to proceed carefully with. If AW or CW wants to do a mass protest float, I'll be there and following their directions. In the meantime, please don't make a special trip down there when there's much better whitewater to float that doesn't have a controversy waiting to happen.

Thanks,

-AH
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Old 04-12-2011   #7
 
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irvine, California
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Originally Posted by JCKeck1 View Post
As a Colorado native, living in Texas for a year, I can't emphasize fighting this enough. Here in Texas, the second biggest State, there is almost zero public land. No BLM, no Forrest Service, just little tiny "state parks" which are closed for public safety during any reasonable high water event. Hence, even though the waterway rights are the same in Texas as they are in Colorado, the attitude of landowners is that it is illegal. The Barny Fife law enforcement will write tickets and enforce the landowner point-of-view. The prosecuters then refuse to dismiss the tickets and refuse to bring them to court because they will likely lose. This leaves the issue in limbo with landowners dictating river access through intimidation. Paddlers have been held at gunpoint until law enforcement arrives. These are the people moving into Colorado. Fight this shit to the death and give no ground.
Joe
What about Big Bend and the Lower Canyons, to name a few? Big Bend is a National Park, but there are several other floats that aren't.
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Old 04-12-2011   #8
 
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Andy left a bit of detail out, well, most of the pertinent facts really.

This situation came to a head last summer when a Texan land developer announced to two rafting outfits that he'd no longer "allow" them to float through his development. A legislative effort ensued, the spineless legislature punted and the rafting co's reached a temporary agreement with the developer. In the interim a few other landowners on the Taylor and elsewhere have begun making some statements to the effect that they intend to carry the torch, as it were. The trespass citation of a local guide last fall, while unrelated to the Taylor issue did stir the pot a bit. At any rate, with floating season upon us it remains unclear what, if anything, the landowners in Taylor Canyon, or elsewhere intend to do.

While the issue has moved to the back burner for the time being, the pot is still boiling and at any moment could boil over again. If you attended any of the legislative hearings having to do with HB-10-1188 last spring and heard some of the testimony from those opposed to the right to float our navigable waterways, you'd no doubt have a much better idea what we're up against.

The point here is - Don't be intimidated, float if you want to float. Be respectful, be safe, and be smart. Learn the laws and regulations, understand your rights and let no one trample them.

Here's a bit of info, I'd suggest reading it in it's entirety, printing off a copy or two and keep it handy when boating.

National Rivers: Colorado River Law, on river conservation, river access, paddling, canoeing, kayaking, rafting, fly-fishing, and Colorado river ownership.

Have a fun and safe season,

-Slave
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Old 04-12-2011   #9
 
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Salt Lake City, Utah
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Just sucks. Taylor has always been our post gnar cool down run coming from Utah. Sucks. One way or the other, I don't see a "win". Just a battle over who owns the stream bed. Ironically, one party is arguing for the ownership of it's freedom.
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Old 04-12-2011   #10
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wildh2onriver View Post
What about Big Bend and the Lower Canyons, to name a few? Big Bend is a National Park, but there are several other floats that aren't.
Sweet areas for sure. I did 7 days solo on the lower canyons this Christmas (The Journey explores the Lower Canyons of the Rio Grande Jackson Kayak – Whitewater, Recreational, Touring and Fishing kayaks). But the fact remains that these are the least desirable areas to live for most people in Texas. They are on the border of Mexico and the area is completely uninhabited. Try getting on crabapple creek, onion creek, or the perdenales at high water. These rivers are near cities and nearly inaccessible to paddlers due to private landowners or government regulations.

Also, the land area in Big Bend and the lower canyons is a joke compared to the land area that Texas encompasses. Yet this is the largest area accessible to paddlers without harassment? Make no doubt about it, the Taylor canyon is more beautiful than anything in the entire state of Texas and Texans are moving there to own it. There is simply a culture difference that is irreconcilable.

I appreciate that these are sweeping generalizations and there will inevitably be exceptions to the rule, but I'm hoping to help other Coloradans understand a perspective that I did not until now.
Joe
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