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Old 02-23-2010   #1
 
nathanfey's Avatar
 
, Colorado
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VOTE TODAY: Should recreational boaters have a right to float?

House Bill 1188 is sitting in the Senate waiting to be assigned to a Senate committee, we expect that to happen next week.
While we are in little bit of a holding pattern in the processes of the State Senate - our battle continues in the field.

A couple of our local media outlets came out opposed to HB 1188! But we can fight back and let our opinions be heard too.

VOTE in the ONLINE POLL - it TAKES 1 minute!
Colorado Springs Gazette:
OUR VIEW: Rafting is not a basic human right | Opinion - Colorado Springs Gazette, CO

Question: Should recreational boaters have a right to float through all private property without permission?
Answer: Yes, all waterways should be open for recreational use by the public.


Submit a quick letter to the editor responding to their editorial and correcting their mistakes and expressing your support: Submit a Letter : Colorado Springs Gazette, CO


*If you're feeling extra spicy today ... take a moment and send our friends at the Pueblo Chieftain newspaper a quick note and let them know you're disappointed in them for changing their stance on HB 1188 and question if they're either for the tourism business and river recreation or not.

Positive Pueblo Chieftain Editorial 2/4/2010: The Pueblo Chieftain Online :: Sensible

Negative Pueblo Chieftain editorial 2/22/10: The Pueblo Chieftain Online :: Defective

Submit a quick letter to the Editor " let them know your disappointed in their change of opinion" The Pueblo Chieftain :: > Forms > Letters
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Old 02-23-2010   #2
 
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Maybe they changed their opinion of the bill because it is weak. While it seems better than nothing, the bill still sucks.

This seems like the obvious time to push for full access to anything below the high water line like most of the country.

I honestly am not sure if I should be in favor of the bill as it presently stands. Are we not giving something up by settling for this ? Will this bill retroactively allow commercial operations on the Lake Fork to resume?
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Old 02-23-2010   #3
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I agree with you Dave. Colorado is one of the only states we are allowed to petition an amendment to the constitution. And each year they try and write a little bit of legislation to take away that ability. I think in lean times like now, if we petitioned for an amendment public support would be good. The best part is you have to be a state resident to vote. No second home owning out of staters telling us how to manage our rivers.
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Old 02-23-2010   #4
 
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Salida, Colorado
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dave Frank View Post
Maybe they changed their opinion of the bill because it is weak. While it seems better than nothing, the bill still sucks.

This seems like the obvious time to push for full access to anything below the high water line like most of the country.

I honestly am not sure if I should be in favor of the bill as it presently stands. Are we not giving something up by settling for this ? Will this bill retroactively allow commercial operations on the Lake Fork to resume?
I agree with Dave as well. Nathan if there is a compelling reason that AW members should be supporting this bill it has not be adequately communicated, in my opinion.
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Old 02-23-2010   #5
 
4CRS, Durango, Colorado
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Concerned

I am worried this bill could hurt paddlers in colorado. Nathan, convience me i am wrong, but could'nt this be seen by land owners as commercial boats = ok to pass through, private paddlers = tresspass. I think we are creating a problem for ourselves with this bill. It is giving one group rights (outfitters) while ignoring the rights of another (private paddlers). It leaves open the possibility that landowners will actively go after private paddlers. What happens to Lake Creek?, how about Sportsmans Paradise? These are land owners with time and money that may see this bill as their right to prosecute paddlers. I am not a lawyer but it worries me that only commercial intrests are being addressed. Someone ease my mind.
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Old 02-24-2010   #6
 
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Durango, Colorado
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I agree with the above. Please explain why as a private boater I should be in favor of this bill. I have very mixed feelings about it. It seems like it is designed to support rafting industry and not the right to float.

Regardless, this bill will set a precedent, but this could go one of two ways. It can begin to solidify our right to float through private property, or it can backfire and suggest private boaters don't have the right to float.

Also, I am already sick of commercial companies ragging on private boaters on this issue, essentially saying commercial companies treat private property with respect while private boaters trash the places they go and will hang out on the river banks just to party and cause trouble. Commericial and Private river users need each other and need to cooperate for the greater good. This bill could cause a sharp division between the two and we'll end up like West Virginia, where it was my observation there was a lot of bad blood between the two user groups.
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Old 02-24-2010   #7
 
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All very good concerns, guys.
I'm not going to tell you to support the bill as it is.
HB-1188 is intended to address an immediate threat to recreational river use on the Taylor, and was not intended to provide all persons a right to float on all rivers. While I agree that Colorado's Legislature needs to give all Colorado residents the rights that are guaranteed under our Constitution and enjoyed by the residents of our neighboring states, this bill is not likely to do so.

Why should we not oppose 1188? Because there is still room to amend the bill's language so that it does not limit or restrict the rights of other river users, like non-commercial users and fisherpeople. As it is currently, the bill does nothing for private paddlers, though some argue it maintains the status quo.
If the bill is not amended as we have requested and moves thru the Senate as is, OR WORSE, AW will oppose the bill. Until that time though, we remain neutral, and are working to get the language changed so that the bill does not imply we have no rights. I encourage you to do the same.

If we were to try and amend the bill so broadly as to protect all people on all rivers, the bill's language would stray so far from it's title, that it would be kicked out of the legislature. We cannot introduce another bill into the legislature this year, and a ballot initiative would cost upwards of $3M. Given our limited options this year, it's imperative that we try to amend 1188 to be as broad and protective as possible, and get it passed and signed into law.

The other option is to oppose the bill - thereby defeating it and allowing landowners to shut down our rivers THIS YEAR! When new legislation is introduced next session, we will have another opportunity to give Colorado residents the rights of navigation. But we need to use this current opportunity to build legal precident, although limited.

One thing to keep in mind: Representative Curry made the decision to not include private paddlers in the legislation - not the comercial outfitters. Why? - she did not think a broader bill would make it out of the first reading in the House. I personally worked with CROA to draft earlier versions of the bill focusing on river segments, not the rights of certain user groups.
I would encourage you to call your State Senators and express your frustrations with the narrow scope of the bill. Ask that it be amended to include private paddlers. If and when the time comes to oppose the bill, AW will. I hope our members and partners will follow.

Hope this helps. Let me know what else AW can do to help address your concerns.
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Old 02-24-2010   #8
 
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Correct me if I'm wrong, but in the language I read last week, this bill isn't necessarily really even about the right to float, it is about the right for commercial outfitters to touch the shore, or rocks in the river, or to even portage life threatening obstacles on private property if necessary.

From what I could tell it fortunately did not touch the right to float through private property for commercial or private paddlers, as that has already been established in CO. The problem arises when a land owner creates an obstacle on their property that requires a portage and then when you touch the bank you are trespassing. As I understand it, this bill would give commercial outfitters the right to portage or touch the banks if the safety of the crew was in question, however it would still leave this type of situation in a gray area for private paddlers.

Some of the language appears that it could be interpreted as excluding private paddlers, and only allowing for commercial boaters to be free from trespass charges, however this is not explicit in the bill and this is the language that I believe AW is working to change.
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Old 02-24-2010   #9
 
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Hey Evan,
I'll respond by line item...

"Correct me if I'm wrong, but in the language I read last week, this bill isn't necessarily really even about the right to float, it is about the right for commercial outfitters to touch the shore, or rocks in the river, or to even portage life threatening obstacles on private property if necessary. "

Yes, that's the intent.

"From what I could tell it fortunately did not touch the right to float through private property for commercial or private paddlers, as that has already been established in CO. "

Some would argue (ex. John Hill) that there is no right to float in Colorado - floating along or through private property is civil trespass.

"The problem arises when a land owner creates an obstacle on their property that requires a portage and then when you touch the bank you are trespassing."

Touching private property is criminal trespass, whereas floating through private property can be argued as civil trespass.

"As I understand it, this bill would give commercial outfitters the right to portage or touch the banks if the safety of the crew was in question, however it would still leave this type of situation in a gray area for private paddlers."

The bill would give outfitters two things - 1) recognize the right to float for commercial outfitters, and 2) decriminalize incidental contact with private property for portaging.

"Some of the language appears that it could be interpreted as excluding private paddlers, and only allowing for commercial boaters to be free from trespass charges, however this is not explicit in the bill and this is the language that I believe AW is working to change."


Exactly - we want to make sure, at the very least, that the bill does not set us back in establishing a public right to navigation.
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Old 02-24-2010   #10
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That says a lot right there. So, could this bill be stand as is in the role of a sidecar to the REAL bill that will establish the RTF? I could get behind that.
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