New posters about your rights on rivers, nationwide and specifically in Colorado: - Mountain Buzz

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Old 10-22-2013   #1
Colorado Springs, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1968
Join Date: Oct 2013
Posts: 31
New posters about your rights on rivers, nationwide and specifically in Colorado:

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 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.

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Old 10-22-2013   #2
Walterville, Oregon
Paddling Since: 1977
Join Date: Mar 2009
Posts: 794

These links show how navigability laws are applied in Oregon.

DSL site

Oregon rulings

Federal list

River Rights | Common Waters of Oregon

American Whitewater
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Old 10-23-2013   #3
Colorado Springs, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1968
Join Date: Oct 2013
Posts: 31
Public rights in the other 49 states.

Yes, the Oregon materials are generally supportive of public rights on rivers, and if you look closely, you can separate out Oregon state law from federal law, and you can see that the public rights involved originate largely from federal law, with Oregon law reconfirming them. The NOR handouts and posters focus on this body of federal law and how it applies in the other 49 states, with or without reconfirmation by the state government in each state. In effect, the NOR materials do for other states what the Oregon materials do for Oregon. Of course, many people in some of those other states will dispute public rights on rivers in their state, but that is the point of the NOR materials: To show that federal law does indeed confirm public rights in those states, even without state reconfirmation. -- Eric Leaper.
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Old 10-23-2013   #4
Join Date: Apr 2006
Posts: 444
Not to sound ignorant, but what rivers in colorado are we being denied access to that AW hasn't already addressed and/or resolved?

Seems like the bigger issue federally is being denied access to rivers that lie within national parks which the federal government doesn't seem to interested in changing.
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Old 10-23-2013   #5
Colorado Springs, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1968
Join Date: Oct 2013
Posts: 31
What rivers in Colorado?

Regarding rivers in Colorado, for starters see: Landowners' river fences pose ongoing rafting issue - The Denver Post

A google search will reveal similar issues on sections of the Lake Fork of the Gunnison, the Taylor, the Elk River, the South Platte, the Animas, and other rivers.

Regarding how AW has addressed these issues, we invite you to compare AW materials about public rights on rivers in Colorado side by side with NOR materials about public rights on rivers in Colorado, which are available at You can certainly come to your own conclusions. -- Eric Leaper.
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