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Old 12-12-2014   #51
Paddle_like_Hell's Avatar
Austin, Tejas
Paddling Since: 2005
Join Date: Nov 2010
Posts: 113
I’ve been following this discussion here and on Boatertalk with considerable interest. As an avid paddler, that lives in Texas, I have seen my fair share of angry armed landowers and had plenty of run-ins with police over such incidents. In fact, we (a small group of paddlers in Central Texas) are currently party to a criminal investigation of a particular landowner that has harassed us for years on my backyard run. We have had warning shots fired and on a latest occasion been watched through the scope of a deer rifle from a nearby bluff (trust me nothing makes you second guess your boof stroke like knowing you’re in the cross hairs). The sheriff’s dept. has verified our right to be on that particular river and have given him verbal warnings but he has not backed down in the slightest. Additionally, my wife has a master’s degree in legal studies and wrote her Master’s thesis on a spring fed Class IV creek in Texas named Crabapple creek that has long been the scene of landowner harassment, trespassing tickets, and even arrest. In our opinion, both drainages are clearly navigable under the State’s navigability statute.

Long story short, this discussion has created a lot of back in forth in our community as we discuss the merits of NOR’s legal theory, and believe me it’s not flawless. But at the end of the day that’s what it is, a theory. And as untested as you may think it is, I can’t wrap my head around the hate and vitriol the buzz is throwing Mr. Leaper’s way. I live in a state where the law is on my side but I remain accosted by armed landowners and I, personally, welcome every voice on this issue regardless of what my armchair evaluation of his legal theory is. What do you think his objective is? Getting rich off his book ? Are you kidding me? You can’t even make kayaks and sell them to this crowd and make a decent living. On what planet do you think he’s looking to produce a best seller on navigability rights? Or maybe, he’s just as concerned as those of us who actually have to deal with this shit and thought he’d let his voice be heard, as the 1st amendment allows. The accusations that he’s taking support away from AW, trying to get people shot, etc. are way more ludacris than his argument for federally validated navigability rights. He’s done research, he’s written his theory, and he’s made an effort to get it in front of a community that he thinks it could help. What’s so wrong with that?

Flawed or not, NOR is providing an opportunity for a productive conversation about how to make sense of a highly debated set of standards from state to state and an avenue to discuss a unified front for National paddler’s rights. One thing I do know, the Fed. gov. has not been silent on the value of state's obligation to hold public lands in trust and that philosophy is the historic driving force behind each state's statutes as they pertain to river access. Would a state to state focused approach be more applicable? Damn Straight! Does that mean that these efforts are "more harm than good", No it doesn't. What harm is there in a Federal argument for river rights? Any right that has ever been challenged, developed, given, or defined has seen both a state and a federal front.
I entrust the state of Texas to protect my rights to enjoy navigable waterways and if they fail that trust the violated party should push the issue with everything they can muster and every word toward awareness is a word in the right direction.

Kayaker from Austin, TX, pretty much just like being a Polar Bear in Florida
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Old 12-12-2014   #52
cedar city, Utah
Join Date: Mar 2008
Posts: 1,928
Fair enough.

I can only explain my approach. First, my skepticism largely comes from the first impression he made last fall. He used a major issue that affected the western whitewater community to bolster his rebranded organization. It was an attempt to market themselves off an issue in which they had no currency, no short-term resolution and highly questionable long term approach. NOR has shown poor judgement in that regard several times.

Two, his organization has failed to vet the material in any fashion. That is beyond poor form when it comes to something as historically controversial as river law. He has been writing this book for a long time, which provided ample time to have a third party not biased by his worldview to review the material in an open way. As well, we have confronted him about this for more than a year. His response? To continue to spam our forum with the same material that is largely click-bait for his own website and fundraising.

Three, the haphazard way he has handled criticism to his ideas and website. Their is little to no accountability to how he handled the claims of non-profit and 501(3)(c) status which rightfully leads to skepticism regarding any legal claim he may make. As well, if the goal is conversation and dialog, then he has failed to lead by example. Until recently he showed no vulnerability to the scale of his claims and how untested they remain. The certainty by which he exclaims the simplicity of the issue has raised red flags for many of us.

No one is claiming that his fundraising and marketing are to make tons of money. No one in that field of work makes much money. Its obvious his passion is lifelong and he has spent a lot of personal time investigating the issue. But we can't forget organizations like this are driven by a persuasive style of communication that is meant to convince us of the validity of their claims and goals. He has utterly failed to do so on this forum. Have some comments gone too far? Yes, and I could have been one of those last autumn (haven't read the thread in a while but I know I spent a lot of time questioning how I could better communicate on the internet without becoming too combative). But he spent no time developing any rapport in the community and has engaged in habits that are shady and problematic (like sock puppets and spamming). He continues to spam the forum despite criticism.

If the goal is facilitating conversation and not driving traffic to his organization, website and sales of his obscure book than I would recommend he consider a completely different approach as the current one is failing. He might start by not always linking his organization in his threads; no longer mass dumping the exact same message to multiple forums; and spending time interacting in the community in threads that aren't solely about his personal ideas. IMHO.


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Old 12-12-2014   #53
Golden, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1975
Join Date: Oct 2007
Posts: 535
Originally Posted by Paddle_like_Hell View Post
What’s so wrong with that?

Well, dude, every time I look into something he says, I find another straight lie or puffed up bullshit.

That may work for you but not for me.

If he was here just as Eric Leaper with no spam, selling useless books or plugging/fundraising for his crock of shit NOR then I'd just write him off as clueless, naive, windbag type of person with no idea how the real world works and pay him no mind.

But he's not so I'm doing my part to see that people are aware and not wasting their money with him vs sending it to a more deserving organization like AW, for example.
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Old 12-12-2014   #54
Steamboat, Colorado
Join Date: Jul 2014
Posts: 582
I don't always agree with Texans (joke, I like most Texans), but I definitely agree with Paddle Like Hell. I started the other thread asking about Colorado private property access laws, and in the very first response I got back, National Rivers was mentioned... maybe not in a super negative way but it has certainly progressed from there... Whether the legality of his statements and theories is correct or not, I don't think it gets any of us anywhere when we target Eric Leaper personally. Comments like this are realistically not productive in any way, shape or form... it actually just comes off as pompous and close-minded. I've tried to at least be respectful about the questions I've asked and the responses I've given. I was really just looking for helpful answers... anything relevant. I didn't realize I was opening up such a big can of worms.

"Waste a bunch of time reading crap that gets us nowhere because there are no good rivers to run in Colorado's painfully long off-season?"

"Why don't folks on the buzz just ignore this guy and treat his posts for what they are: SPAM.

I ran into an exact duplicate of his original post on another forum, so I Googled "river users should know their rights" and got several pages of other forums with copy and paste identical threads.

I think that river users should have a conversation about access issues, but this is just a guy posing as a non-profit, promoting a book and soliciting donations."

"Real world translation of Eric bullshit speak: nothing is going to happen that comes from NOR.

Still awaiting your response on your latest blatant lie too, Eric. Or still need some more time to come up with another windbag, untruth answer?"

"Fuck off NationalRivers. You are going to get someone arrested with your third rate bullshit legal advice."

"good lord, the delusional, windbag fuckstick is back.

Has the IRS caught up with you yet, dipshit?"

"Any dumbass sending this lying,delusional piece of shit $$$ ....well, a fool and his money are soon parted. No truer saying here.

The asswipe can't even take care of the most basic business let alone accomplish anything that's going to help river users. 40+ years of nothing.

Send your money to AW.

Go fuck yourself, Eric. "

Maybe I'm being a hypocrite... I don't know... maybe I wasn't as respectful as I thought... maybe I'm a pansy and I just wish we could all get abong... I just don't feel comments like this are going to get us any farther than where we are, which is just arguing.
Come on guys, let's progress by having real discussions, not just ragging on National Rivers, who has clearly put more research and effort into finding a resolution than the majority of us have. As I said before, I think Eric is trying to do a good thing, maybe he is going about it in the wrong way but I still appreciate that somebody is out there trying to find answers... yeah, maybe (actually definitely) American Whitewater is way more effective in their ideas and procedures... but at least National Rivers is trying...

So before anyone else posts some shitty comment about Eric Leaper, as yourself:
It's a good day to be a duck....
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Old 12-12-2014   #55
Arvada (Denver), Colorado
Join Date: Jul 2005
Posts: 250
Originally Posted by restrac2000 View Post
His last post showed a hint of receiving feedback, that is a start. NORs social media and internet strategy is problematic and unsophisticated, that is for sure. Their spamming of multiple forums with PR messages for their website is causing them a lot of grief here. I think the benefits of their approach gets completely lost in the process they have chosen to deliver the message. That and the over-reaching claims they present. I think many of us understand one avenue of change can be cross-stakeholder and agency communication. But it has proven itself to be historically limited as it assumes all parties act in good faith. That doesn't always happen, on either side of the access issue.


There are 4 stream access, use and/or protection procedural avenues through which change may be created, amended and/or confirmed:
1. Litigate
2. Legislate
3. Initiate and/or
4. Educate (Learn, Raise Awareness)

Each has pros and cons.

There's a big difference between "access" and "use".
There's access "to and from" water.
There's use "of" water.

There's "uplands" and there's "bedlands". The line that separates the uplands from the bedlands is the "ordinary high water mark".

There's the "high water mark" and there's the "ordinary high water mark". Big difference between the two terms.

There are 4 combinations of private and public access over private and public uplands to/from private and public bedlands but only 2 combinations that require, rightfully, private interest permission:

1. Private uplands to private bedlands (private permission)
2. Private uplands to public bedlands (private permission)
3. Public uplands to private bedlands and
4. Public uplands to public bedlands.

National Rivers, or anyone, may want to clarify how #3 may or may not need private interest permission having to do with navigable or non-navigable waters.

Under Colorado State Constitution Article XVI, Section 5, waters are publicly owned in common to be used for beneficial use (language doesn't say "access", it says "use").

Many, many ancient, Common and Federal laws, rulings, regs, etc, confirm, create or amend to protect the public trust interest in, control and use of our public waters and make contact with the bedlands whether public or private when doing so.

Essentially, the primary authorities used to maintain that you can't "touch bottom" are the Emmert CO Supreme Court case, CO Criminal Trespass statute that was amended in 1977 (1977 SB 360 - I have the incredibly misinformed, mistaken and misunderstood legislative committee hearings' discussion and testimony, including testimony from the Lower Blue's Jim Yust) in direct relationship with the Emmert case to define "premises" to include "banks and beds" and the 1983 CO Attorney General's Opinion.

Upon much research, it's my belief that, if challenged, Emmert would be found to have erred, the criminal trespass "premises" definition amendment would thus be unconstitutional and the definition's repeal would ultimately result and, lastly, the AG's Opinion is just that... an opinion and, therefore, has no legal weight.

This gray area of law continues, since 1977, to allow the private interest to bully and intimidate the public interest (you) to do nothing and maintain the status quo to their benefit. Remember, while the private interest enjoys private "usufructory", or "use" rights, the public trust interest has use AND common "ownership" rights. The private interest has "property" rights but the public has "property" rights, also.

IMO, the 3 most important bases to successfully proceed in one, some or all of the above mentioned procedures are:
1. Organization
2. Funding and
3. Media

The most important base to effectively clarify substance is:
1. Language, whether to litigate, legislate, initiate or learn and which must be clear, concise and confirming.

From what I've read in both National Rivers' books and online posts, it seems they advocate to assist private, public and govt folks to learn public trust interest rights. NR, correct me if that statement's in error. My procedural approach is "Learn First Then Legislate...or Initiate...or Litigate".

To activate any of these processes to get to the substantive language part, there needs to be a flashpoint. In 2010 here in CO, that flashpoint was the Wilder On the Taylor developer's attempt to privatize a Taylor River section that resulted in the failed private interest commercial business "rafter's bill", 2010 HB 1188 (which was a bad bill from the get go).

Presently, there are 2 flash points now going on in CO which impact your river rights, the Colorado Water Plan and the fracking, which involves water, discussion by the Oil and Gas Task Force, both of which boaters, fishers...any and all water users and public owners in common should, but have not Commented (I have) to protect our public's interest in, use and control of our public trust natural resource assets, such as air, water and wildlife, for the public's benefit. Search both for info, learn and then act to stand up for your public river rights.

It's a choice, folks. Sit down and maintain the status quo of being scared to even scrape a rock with your boat or Wooly Bugger, or stand up for your public trust interest.
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Old 12-12-2014   #56
Steamboat, Colorado
Join Date: Jul 2014
Posts: 582
Then again, I guess I didn't get a chance to read the above responses before I posted mine. I also haven't been on the Buzz for that long, so I don't really know the background of the situation.
It's a good day to be a duck....
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Old 12-12-2014   #57
Andy H.'s Avatar
Wheat Ridge, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1995
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 2,909

I really don't care about NOR's non-profit status or website, nor do I think Eric's trying, or even thinking, he'll get rich off his book.

As I've stated several times before, I think we share the same goals as NOR, and it's gut-wrenching to argue against someone who's on the same side as us. However, NOR is expounding incorrect legal theories on how laws governing river access and riparian trespass, at least here in Colorado, work.

We'd all love to see success in what NOR's preaching, but Eric is expounding on the law as if he's an expert, and in doing so, is spreading misinformation (that we would love to believe) among the boating community about a very complex and confusing issue. What I consider dangerous is that if uninformed boaters believe and act upon what he's saying, those actions and beliefs can: A) get people who believe him arrested for trespass, B) reflect poorly on the majority of law-abiding boaters, C) make people think changing laws can be done by telling the sheriff and local authorities they don't understand the laws, and citing some court cases, and D) undermine the efforts of legitimate and skilled groups such as AW in working toward improving river access.

This last one is really significant to me because misinformed boaters that believe NOR may wonder why AW or CW hasn't been more successful when NOR makes the issue seem so clear cut and as if there is an overwhelming body of law in favor of access. The conclusion some may draw is that AW or other legitimate groups are at best, a bunch of incompetent fools, and at worst, "selling out" private boaters, because these groups are not delivering the river access gains he's told them can be had simply by citing the right court cases. Court cases that NOR's researched and put right there in his "new short book."

NOR even went so far as to say (Post #12):
AW has something in common with the landowners and lawyers in Georgia (and Colorado) who oppose public rights on rivers. They both claim that these rights are determined by state law, and in both cases their claims conflict with federal law.
In effect, NOR may as well be saying, "even after working for over a half century on river access, American Whitewater has been buying the landowners' BS and STILL hasn't even figured out that these rights are NOT determined by state law!"

Another way NOR can undermine efforts of legitimate groups is to launch a half-baked lawsuit that gets beaten down so badly it actually strengthens the position those opposing river access.

I've made a few different analogies to what he's doing so far, and here's another one: Imagine a broup of us get off the river, only have a few bucks between us, and we go into a grocery store to get some food. And Eric is telling the rest of the group, in a very confident manner, that we don't have to pay for bottled water in the store because since that water is from Colorado, it's considered "waters of the State" and the constitution says it belongs to the people of Colorado, and that's us! So we can just take it! If you knew better, and saw the trouble coming, how would you react to the guy that's giving bogus advice?

Is NOR passionate and committed about something we'd like to see happen? There's no denying it. But it doesn't matter how passionate and committed you are, if you're trying to find your way across Colorado using a road map from New Hampshire, you're not going to get where you want to go. And you're going to lead others astray who follow you.

Nothing in the world is more yielding and gentle than water. Yet it has no equal for conquering the resistant and tough. The flexible can overcome the unbending; the soft can overcome the hard. - Lao Tse
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Old 12-12-2014   #58
Denver, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1999
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 855
I previously wrote: "The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia is only legally binding for that district, and is NOT legally binding precedent for the rest of the country.

NOR responds with:
Originally Posted by NationalRivers View Post
Yes, that is indeed the question, for marko and whomever else would like to argue it.
It is not a question of whether a US district court's holding on a specific issue is legally binding on other districts and states; it is a fact that a US district court's holding is NOT legally binding on other federal districts and states. In other words, this is not an arguable point; it is the current reality of how the federalist system functions.

Originally Posted by NationalRivers View Post
Again, what’s the rest of your argument? How would you argue that Grape Creek is not navigable for Commerce Clause purposes? How does a state have authority to close a waterway that is navigable for Commerce Clause purposes under federal law? If states do indeed have authority to close such waterways, is there any legal principle stopping states from closing every river in the nation? Do kayakers have any legal rights to kayak down rivers and creeks through private land, or can all such kayaking be terminated at the whim of state courts or legislatures?
This whole hypothetical scenario you have created shows, again, how little you know of how the system actually functions. You are like the guy who knows the entire history of baseball and all of its stats. And, yet, you have never bothered to learn the rules of the game, nor have you actually stepped up to the plate to play the game. What is worse is that you then have the fucking audacity to tell the people who know the rules, and who have actually played the game, that they are all somehow playing the game wrong - while conveniently suggesting that they should then buy your book to see why everybody is wrong and you are right.

So rather than follow you down your foolish rabbit hole of fallacies and hypotheticals, I'll suggest one last thing to you: step up to the plate with your theories, your money, and your ass on the line and see how it goes.
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Old 12-13-2014   #59
Arvada (Denver), Colorado
Join Date: Jul 2005
Posts: 250
Free. Freebo. Zilch.


For those of you who want to learn more, for free, about your stream access, use and protection rights, go to --> create Alerts for subjects such as:
"Colorado Stream Access"
"Victoria's Secret Models"
"Navigable Waters"
"Emmert Trespass Colorado Supreme Court"
"Angelina Jolie"
"Colorado Public Trust Doctrine"
"Lyrics to 'I'll Be Drinking Christmas Dinner This Year'"
"Montana Public Land and Water Access"
"Utah Stream Access Coalition Law Suits Legislation"
"Colorado Water Plan"
"Colorado River Oil and Gas Task Force Water Quantity"
"Colorado Obstruction of Highways Waterways Statute Fences"
"Public Bridge Access Law Montana"
"American Whitewater Recreational Historical Use Weight Evidence"

Then organize the alerted articles, pdf's, etc you want to Save for future reference in Folders in your browsers, get the IOS app "iBooks" or Android counterpart to organize the pdf's and, violins!, you're an expert!
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Old 01-12-2015   #60
Tom Martin's Avatar
Flagstaff, Arizona
Join Date: Dec 2004
Posts: 817
In this, the 60th year of river permitting to float through Grand Canyon, I too would like to thank Eric for his attempts to educate river runners about their rights to access rivers.

Folks who take shots at the messengers are aplenty. Folks working on the vexing issues of equitable access, like Eric, few. If you haven't gone out and gotten a copy of Eric's paper, read it and understood where he is coming from, trying to shoot his arguments full of holes is most curious.

There is still a lot to do, and I am happy to see at least a few folks are willing to keep working on the issue. What is happening in Colorado and on the Grand Canyon in Arizona is illegal and illogical, with much work remaining to be done.

All the best, Tom

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