Two new posters, “Public Rights on Rivers in the United States” and “Public Rights on Rivers in Colorado,” are now available for free downloading and printing at nationalrivers.org. There are also handout versions of both posters.
The national poster explains federal law that applies in all fifty states. The Colorado poster is specifically about how state and federal law apply on rivers in Colorado.
October is a great time to distribute these materials, so that people will see them during the holiday season, and will have time to review and discuss them during the colder months when there is less river activity. If you live or travel in one of the mountain towns of western Colorado, now is a great time to hang up the Colorado poster on bulletin boards in outdoor stores, fly fishing shops, community centers, supermarkets, parks, town squares, college campuses, and other public locations. It’s also a great time to give a copy of the poster and the handout to county sheriffs and other law enforcement officials. (There is no need to ask for responses from sheriffs and officials at this point—just let them study the poster and handout on their own time.)
The Colorado poster and handout do not echo the usual claims made by lawyers for riverfront landowners, to the effect that public rights on rivers in Colorado would have to be decided by state courts or the state legislature. Instead, they cite the relevant U.S. Supreme Court decisions, as well as Acts of Congress and the Supremacy Clause and Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution, to show that the rivers in Colorado that people typically use for raft, kayak, or canoe trips are navigable for Commerce Clause purposes under federal law. These rivers are subject to the federal navigational easement, including public rights to scout rapids from shore, portage around rapids, and fish from gravel bars and river banks. The poster and handout explain that Colorado state law does not actually deny the public easement on these rivers, nor could it do so.
The handouts, one for the nation and the other specifically for Colorado, are ready to print on letter size paper. The posters come in two different versions, one for legal size paper and the other for 11 x 17 paper. The 11 x 17 version can be printed out at office supply stores or photocopy centers.
These handouts and posters can also be e-mailed to the directors of kayak clubs, college outdoor programs, government agencies, and reporters for local newspapers and other media.
Future posters will address state and federal law in other states where disputes are common, and public rights on rivers flowing through federal lands such as the Grand Canyon and national forests in Idaho and Oregon.
You can see the posters and handouts now at Home - National Organization for Rivers