Gunnison and Slate River Closures - Mountain Buzz
 



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Old 06-07-2019   #1
 
Crested Butte, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2003
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Gunnison and Slate River Closures

This does not effect the upper Slate class IV-V reach.

GUNNISON AND SLATE RIVER CLOSURES
High, Fast Water Prompts Sheriff to Issue Order

Gunnison County, Colo – Effective June 7, 2019 and until further notice, the Gunnison River is CLOSED between Almont and the Gunnison Whitewater Park; and the Slate River is CLOSED between Gunsight Pass Ridge and the State Hwy 135 bridge at mile marker 25.5. By Order of the Gunnison County Sheriff (per authority of Colorado Revised Statute 33-13-111), these river portions are CLOSED to all water vessels. These closures are to protect public safety, and are due to dangerous river conditions, including very low clearances at bridges. For more information, contact the Gunnison County Sheriff’s Office 970-641-1113.

All Other Rivers and Streams: For all other areas not identified above, please be aware that all rivers and streams in Gunnison County continue to run at bank-full conditions. All recreational users (boaters, fishermen, etc.) are urged to use extreme caution on and around the rivers. The rivers are fast, cold and carrying large amounts of debris. There could be numerous snags and debris jams, resulting in serious obstacles, as well as low clearances on bridges. Due to the volume of water being carried, the character of these rivers and streams is far different and more dangerous than during normal flows.

Do not allow unsupervised children or pets close to these rivers and streams. All persons on or near these rivers should be wearing appropriate personal floatation devices (PFD’s).

Beginner boaters and floaters are strongly advised to employ a professional rafting company if entering the water.

Boating equipment lost on/in the river should be reported to Dispatch at (970) 641-8200.

For more information, please contact the Gunnison County Sheriff’s Office at (970) 641-1113.

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Old 06-07-2019   #2
 
Front Range, Colorado
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Is that legal?
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Old 06-07-2019   #3
 
Join Date: Apr 2006
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It's legal, but see how whitewater kayaks and canoes are excepted:


(1)(a) The commission shall promulgate rules to prohibit the operation of vessels on any waters of the state and ordering the removal of vessels from any waters of the state when such operation constitutes or may constitute a hazard to human life or safety.



(b) For purposes of this subsection (1), “vessels” shall not include whitewater canoes and kayaks except in the case of:
(I) A state of disaster emergency pursuant to section 24-33.5-704 or 24-33.5-709, C.R.S .;



(II) Disaster relief efforts that are underway and that may include debris removal;



(III) An accident or other emergency that occurs in or immediately adjacent to the water body;



(IV) Rescue efforts for victims that are actively underway and such efforts would be hindered by additional waterway traffic;  or

(V) Active construction or transportation projects authorized under state or federal law.





(2) Any parks and recreation officer or other peace officer as defined in section 33-10-102 has the authority to enforce this section under the rules promulgated by the commission.



(3) Any person who fails to obey an order issued under this section is guilty of a class 2 petty offense and, upon conviction, shall be punished by a fine of one hundred dollars.
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Old 06-07-2019   #4
 
Colorado, Colorado
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Quote:
Originally Posted by phillersk View Post
It's legal, but see how whitewater kayaks and canoes are excepted:


(1)(a) The commission shall promulgate rules to prohibit the operation of vessels on any waters of the state and ordering the removal of vessels from any waters of the state when such operation constitutes or may constitute a hazard to human life or safety.



(b) For purposes of this subsection (1), “vessels” shall not include whitewater canoes and kayaks except in the case of:
(I) A state of disaster emergency pursuant to section 24-33.5-704 or 24-33.5-709, C.R.S .;



(II) Disaster relief efforts that are underway and that may include debris removal;



(III) An accident or other emergency that occurs in or immediately adjacent to the water body;



(IV) Rescue efforts for victims that are actively underway and such efforts would be hindered by additional waterway traffic;  or

(V) Active construction or transportation projects authorized under state or federal law.





(2) Any parks and recreation officer or other peace officer as defined in section 33-10-102 has the authority to enforce this section under the rules promulgated by the commission.



(3) Any person who fails to obey an order issued under this section is guilty of a class 2 petty offense and, upon conviction, shall be punished by a fine of one hundred dollars.

So according to the law, kayaks and canoes can still legally recreate on the rivers that were closed?
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Old 06-07-2019   #5
 
Join Date: Apr 2006
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My interpretation (check with your attorney before you hit the put-in) yes, unless sections (I) through (IV) apply. However, if it's "closed" you also might want to have some bail money set aside and have a argument setup for the judge. I think it's time this statute was adjusted to work with modern boating/boaters...
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Old 06-08-2019   #6
 
Horserump, Colorado
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May not be a good idea to "adjust it" there's too much money from folks who want to get rid of all boaters floating by and through their property. Let it be and live with it. It was mainly designed to limit tubers from doing stupid stuff and needing rescue or body recovery.
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Old 06-08-2019   #7
 
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Buena Vista, Colorado
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The AHRA wasn't legally able to close the Arkansas when the Silver Bullet became a manmade keeper hole because of the statutes listed by phillersk, but at the same time Boulder County was able to close Boulder Creek during the huge floods a couple years ago.... I think the distinction has to do with a designation of a "disaster or emergency"....
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Old 06-08-2019   #8
 
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Crested Butte, Colorado
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The closure includes all vessels including canoes and kayaks.

The water is very high in the Slate and Gunnison rivers right now and there are several bridges with only inches of clearance. In the case of the Slate you would be trespassing on private property to portage the bridge in McCormick ranch. The property owners here have been very accommodating to allow access to this section of river as well as to popular bike trails, cross country trails and the path leading up to Mt. Crested Butte, however if people do not respect this TEMPORARY closure it will become permanent and not only effect the river access but also access to hiking and biking trails such as Tony's and the Lower Loop. Safety is also a big concern right now. The water in the slate is is fluctuation between 38 and 50 degrees and is moving very fast. While most whitewater boaters (kayakers, rafters)I see generally have appropriate safety gear such as PFD's and splash gear or dry/wetsuits 90 percent of the SUP'ers I see do not wear PFD's and have nothing but a bathing suit on. SAR does not want to start pulling peoplesicles out of the river.

Please be thankful that we have these amazing recreation opportunities and help protect them by Respecting law enforcement agencies decision to TEMPORARILY close these sections of river.

There's still plenty of snow in the mountains here and it should be a long wet river season, an amazing wild flower season and hopefully all the moisture around will keep the wildfires a bay for one more summer.

The Taylor is pumping right now. The Upper Slate is still open. The Gunnison below Gunnison is a beautiful stretch of river. And if you are fortunate enough to be able to travel the Arkansas is finally flowing.

Be safe and smart out there.

Peace and Love and we'll see you on the river....soon
Thank you,
Chris K
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Old 06-08-2019   #9
 
Join Date: Apr 2006
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My response was more directed at the "is it legal?" question. Yes, the S.O. can close the river. No, they cannot forbid certain crafts unless certain conditions exist (as mentioned in the statute).


A closure was implemented many years ago on the Eagle, and there were plenty of "fireworks" when the restriction was tested. In the end, kayaks were allowed to go float. I would still expect people to get cited (and need to hire a lawyer to fight it) during the current closures.


I understand why it's closed and hopefully people will observe the closure. However, if you have the right float, you have the right to float.
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Old 06-08-2019   #10
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by phillersk View Post
My response was more directed at the "is it legal?" question. Yes, the S.O. can close the river. No, they cannot forbid certain crafts unless certain conditions exist (as mentioned in the statute).


A closure was implemented many years ago on the Eagle, and there were plenty of "fireworks" when the restriction was tested. In the end, kayaks were allowed to go float. I would still expect people to get cited (and need to hire a lawyer to fight it) during the current closures.


I understand why it's closed and hopefully people will observe the closure. However, if you have the right float, you have the right to float.

My sentiments exactly. No one wants trespassing or accidents to occur, but there are a lot of stipulations that must be met to legally close access to whitewater boaters with the proper gear and experience. Most of what I have seen when this is attempted didn't stand up to pressure... and I do not believe this circumstance meets the legal criteria.
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