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There is new barb wire strung from bank to bank (2 wires visible) on the Florida River just above the big drop under the bridge above Hagger's Black Dog Tavern. I observed this from the road, but appears to no way around besides a portage, as it is close to the water's surface.

I think a little cutting may be in order soon. I am pretty sure I have heard that stringing wire across a navagable river is illegal. In addition, I find the timing of this a little coincidental as the water has just come up and more boaters are running this stretch.

Be careful out there, there could be more not visible from the road!
 

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This is the only fence on the run. We were able get under the side at 850 cfs so I am sure you will be fine now. I do think some wire cutters are in order. Watch out for the trees though. Have fun. :D
 

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I've passed this issue on to AW's Access Coordinator and some other Colorado river law folks that may be able to help sort this out or at least provide guidance on how to best handle it. Hopefully we'll hear from them soon.

If stringing wire across a navigable waterway (its doubtful the Florida "officially" falls into that category) really is illegal, then call the Sheriff first before taking the law into your own wire snips. Before cutting the wire, someone may want to consider putting some brightly-colored flagging on it to make it more visible to boaters, then checking into the legality and what options boaters have.

Cutting the wire without trying to deal with the landowner first is likely to just make him harden his stance and could wreck any chance of trying to work it out in a civil manner.

--Andy
 

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here's the response from Patrick Tooley, an attorney familiar with access issues. He suggests getting CWWA involved and talking to Kent Ford in Durango. Can someone who's more involved with CWWA take the lead on this?

--Andy

From: Patrick Tooley
Sent: Wednesday, April 20, 2005 6:05 PM
To: Horn, J. Andrew
Subject: Re: CAUTION - New Barbwire on Florida

I agree with you that cutting barbed wire is a bad idea. The short answer is that the best approach is often to contact the local sheriff and ask for assistance. I know Kent Ford has been involved in the past with fencing issues on the Florida river. A landowner is entitled to fence his or her land and commits no criminal offense by doing so. Having said that, the question then becomes how does that impact the ability of a boater to float over the land or portage around the obstruction. This is not a clear area of the law, and to the extent we can get the local sheriff to intercede or agree that the issue is a civil and not a criminal issue, the legal exposure boaters face when portaging around a fence is greatly reduced. Any way, you might want to contact Kent Ford (at Performance Video in Durango) about this issue. He is a great guy and has helped on Florida river fencing issues before. Cheers. Depending on how that conversation goes, CWWA can evaluate how to proceed.
 

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Dude, I don't care that much. It is just one fence and you duck under it. It was only an issue at 850 cfs and we still make it under, it was just a little harry. I'm so stoked when it is that big the last thing to do is worry about the fence. Relax bro :D
 

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Definitely dont relax, its a big issue. As far as I'm concerned its preventing someone from doing something thats fully within the law (running the river) and forcing them to commit a crime (trespassing). Wait till your favorite run is so littered with fence that you cant run it anymore or god forbid a fence kills someone.
 

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well..........

The wire needs to go for sure, be it by the landowner or otherwise if push comes to shove. What the land owner needs to realize is the liability that is being placed upon him/her.

This is a lawsuit waiting to happen and perhaps a criminal charge. Essentially this is the same as creating a booby-trap which is illegal in every state, and that might be the best thing to bring up with the La Plata County Sheriff's and Attorney's Offices.

I'm going to talk to a couple of deputies that I know about it later today, I'll post the results of those discussions.


MH
 

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MVHyde,

Thanks for getting on this. You may want to document who you talk to, what their position is, conversation date, etc. Kent Ford's in Durango and may have some helpful info. I'll continue to post any replies I get from my original query, but can't do much more from where I am. Sounds like a job for CWWA and y'all down there in the Durango area.

Good luck and SYOTR,

--Andy
 

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More from P. Tooley. I've forwarded a request for info to Kent Ford, hopefully he'll have more on the subject. - AH

From: Patrick Tooley
Sent: Thursday, April 21, 2005 3:27 PM
To: Horn, J. Andrew
Subject: RE: CAUTION - New Barbwire on Florida

(Kent Ford)...sent a letter to Sheriff Shicard in June 2001 on behalf of canoe and kakay paddlers tohelp on the Florida River. He included a copy of the AG's opinion concerning boater's right to float. Kent certainly will know the lay of the land (or the current of the water) better than I, but let me know how things progress. Thanks.
 

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In my 2001 incident both the DA and Sheriff replied to me indicating we were in the right to be boating. I would think they would be sympathetic to a polite plea for fence marking or temporary removal by the landowner.

Once a landowner calls the sherrif, we need to understand that the short term situation probably won't go our way. The sherrif deputy shows up on the 2000 acres of a beligerent gun totin landowner, and thus is simply more likely to side with the landowner than with a few paddlers out having fun.

The Florida River has many hidden fences, and it sure wouldnt hurt to have someone write the newspaper pleaing for help marking the dangerous fences.
 
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