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Who owns a river? River Access Bill in Legislature

It looks like the question will be answered soon. If there was ever a time to write or call your representative...It's Now! Think of all the rivers that could be blocked. I think another issue to address with this is the ability of a landowner to force a tresspass with an unrunnable low head or irrigation dam.

Durango Herald News, Lawmakers to consider river rights
 

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I hope Kathleen has success getting this bill through. I know the property that is causing the problem. As more and more rich people from out of county buy up property they try and close down access that has always been allowed by the previous property owners. This attitude has resulted in river access issues. Other problems such as an unhealthy Elk/Deer population that has been trained to go to large private parcels that do not allow hunting creating over population, disease and poor hunting success rates. Dirt Bike/Mountain Bike trails have also suffered from this issue. All these restrictions of access affect tourism and employment in our county. While Curry's legislation only addresses river access this is a step in the right direction.

I understand and am all for property owners rights. I also believe that if they do not "own" all the water flowing down the river and it is navigable then they should have no ability to block others from using this water way. Rafters/Kayakers are typically a respectful group and do their best not to trespass on private land.

I have noticed over the years that it is the "fishermen" that get upset at other uses of the river or even other fishermen being on a public stretch of water. This property bringing the river access issue forward is being offered as a fishing property and they don't want other people fishing "their" waters which are state stocked or disturbing "their" fish and fishing by floating by.
 

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Another article with some more info:

Curry bill would keep river rights-of-way in public hands

Love this section:

Hamel said the courts have long held that the water flowing down the state’s streams are publicly owned and that the right to float on it shouldn’t be an issue.

“We’re not trying to take away the landowner’s rights, but rafting is a $142 million business in Colorado, and it employs hundreds of people. We’re just trying to protect jobs and people’s livelihoods,” Hamel said.


“The new landowner on the Taylor, he flew into Gunnison on his Lear jet and said that he was no longer going to allow either of these rafting companies to float through,” said Curry of Shaw, the Texas developer.


“They’ve had permits for 20 years to run the stretch. They employ a lot of people, and one guy comes in and shuts it down. He has the wherewithal to bring it to a head legally.”
 

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So who's going to attend, or even testify, at the House of Representatives Judiciary committee hearing for HB 1188 on February 8, 2010 at 1:30pm in Room 0107 at the Capitol to let the committee know what you want to amend, support, oppose, remain neutral, etc?

All the major players' lawyers, lobbyists, organization advocates, commercial boat guides, you name it, they'll be there. It'll be a Battle of the Titans! Monday! Monday! at Capitol Hill! This'll be better than a cage match of UF!

I'm definitely attending and may testify for the fishermen's interest. I'll be wearing a fishing shirt or some gear to express my interests. I understand the commercial boaters are putting their boats on the lawn outside.

Seating's limited, free to attend and I hear someone in the audience gets the winning Power Ball Lottery ticket. heh, heh

Game on!
 

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I hope Kathleen has success getting this bill through. I know the property that is causing the problem. As more and more rich people from out of county buy up property they try and close down access that has always been allowed by the previous property owners. This attitude has resulted in river access issues. Other problems such as an unhealthy Elk/Deer population that has been trained to go to large private parcels that do not allow hunting creating over population, disease and poor hunting success rates. Dirt Bike/Mountain Bike trails have also suffered from this issue. All these restrictions of access affect tourism and employment in our county. While Curry's legislation only addresses river access this is a step in the right direction.

I understand and am all for property owners rights. I also believe that if they do not "own" all the water flowing down the river and it is navigable then they should have no ability to block others from using this water way. Rafters/Kayakers are typically a respectful group and do their best not to trespass on private land.

I have noticed over the years that it is the "fishermen" that get upset at other uses of the river or even other fishermen being on a public stretch of water. This property bringing the river access issue forward is being offered as a fishing property and they don't want other people fishing "their" waters which are state stocked or disturbing "their" fish and fishing by floating by.
While you're 100% correct about this having to do with disruptions to the fishing, please don't make the mistake of lumping all fishermen into this category. The fishermen we're talking about here are not the Joe and Jane sixpack that wants to go out and catch a few fish on their day off, and are generally easy going, friendly folks. The type of fishermen we're dealing with here are the one's that want to land their gulfstream at the airstrip, have the porter ready their waders and rod while they have brandy and cigars at the clubhouse, then head out to the river and catch the biggest possible fish with the least possible effort, afterwhich they'll again retire to the clubhouse to congratulate themselves, again over brandy and cigars. I know the type all too well, I spent 2 years guiding for one such outfit before I couldn't handle the douchbaggery any longer. Trust me, you'll never see these people on public water - the fish aren't big enough or easy enough for the uber-rich types that have become so accustomed having everything they want whenever they want it, and having it all to themselves.
 

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Any user of rivers should be making thier voice count. We should all converge on the capital with kayakers, fisherman, tubers, private rafters, anyone who uses the river and is for SHARING. This is a big deal.
 

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HB 1188

This has probably been address in other posts. This bill, as it currently stands, specifically represents only commercial rafters.

At this point I would oppose the bill and submit a request to modify it to include all users of our watre ways.

Write your State rep and senator requesting that this bill not be passed unless it is revised.

CI
 

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I understand your concern, but commercial rafters can act on behalf of private boaters. The immediate issue on the Taylor river suggests that if this bill doesn't pass, the land owner could set precedent for future rulings against public access to water ways. In the future, would you rather potentially go up against a commercial boating outfit for access or a private landowner?

This has probably been address in other posts. This bill, as it currently stands, specifically represents only commercial rafters.

At this point I would oppose the bill and submit a request to modify it to include all users of our watre ways.

Write your State rep and senator requesting that this bill not be passed unless it is revised.

CI
 

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Clarify Terms

I understand your concern, but commercial rafters can act on behalf of private boaters.
For the purposes of boating community talk, rules, regs within its community, the terms "commercial" and "private" boating interests may apply.

However, the terms "private commercial" and "public" boating interests may, more clearly, apply for the purposes of legislation in describing the two interests.

Specifically, there are 4 subinterests of the general water user interest.

1 Private commercial boater user
2 Private commercial fisher user
3 Public boater user
4 Public fisher user

Also, there is one general and specific land owner title interest.
1 Private land owner title interest

That is, there is the private land owner title interest and the private commercial boater user interest. Therefore, this bill involves a totally private interest issue and should be read as such.

Just sayin'...;)
 

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This has probably been address in other posts. This bill, as it currently stands, specifically represents only commercial rafters.

At this point I would oppose the bill and submit a request to modify it to include all users of our watre ways.

Write your State rep and senator requesting that this bill not be passed unless it is revised.

CI
BAD IDEA! Please dont follow this advice. While you are right in an idealistic sense - the Bill would ideally apply to all users on all sections, that would currently be totally un-passible in the legislature. Therefore, the bill as it stands is a good foot in the door and will set precedent in the right direction. If it goes the other way, it will set precedent in the wrong direction, which would be disastrous. Support it.
 

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I think it would be best to stand together as a boating community and get this bill passed. It will be easier to keep the right to float movement going if we can get this victory.
 

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BAD IDEA! Please dont follow this advice. While you are right in an idealistic sense - the Bill would ideally apply to all users on all sections, that would currently be totally un-passible in the legislature. Therefore, the bill as it stands is a good foot in the door and will set precedent in the right direction. If it goes the other way, it will set precedent in the wrong direction, which would be disastrous. Support it.

I have contacted my reps regarding the scope of this bill and hope they will address this. I remain uneasy about the commercial focus only and await a response from the politicans. I'll remain opposed to this until I have an unbiased opinion that represents public interest.

CI
 

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BAD IDEA! Please dont follow this advice. While you are right in an idealistic sense - the Bill would ideally apply to all users on all sections, that would currently be totally un-passible in the legislature. Therefore, the bill as it stands is a good foot in the door and will set precedent in the right direction. If it goes the other way, it will set precedent in the wrong direction, which would be disastrous. Support it.
No introduced bill is black and white. It is often amended to benefit all interests involved. For HB 1188, all interests are best served by amending the bill to bring a compromise resolution.

Rather than idealistic sense, here's some practical reasons...

As written, HB 1188:
1 Includes only private interests
2 Excludes all other public interests such as boating and fishing
3 Allows incidental limited use of, passage through and portage around the bed to some ("safety") purposes
4 Violates the Public Trust Doctrine (google it)
5 Provides only for floatation over/on waters and beds

If amended, HB 1188:
1 Includes all public interests, including boating, fishing and all other lawful recreational purposes and activities
2 Allows broad use of waters and beds incidental to all lawful purposes
3 Provides for broad use of waters and beds

The commercial boater companies are selfishly thinking of only their interests in begging for these crumbs to float on, pass through and portage around privately(?) owned beds for limited safety purposes to the detriment of the private commercial boat/wade fishing guide companies, public fishing and public boaters.
Amendments to include the rights of all water users can be made without harming the substance of the bill rather than forcing the public boater and fishermen water users to come back after the fact and grovel for our rights. Simply replace "commercial river guides" or somesuch, with "public water users" or somesuch and replace "incidental to safety purposes" with "incidental to all lawful recreational activities that utilize the publicly owned state water and beds" throughout the bill.

To make the bill better for every interest, amend it and ask your legislators to do so. Then support and vote for its passage and enactment.

Even better than emailing the legislators to amend, go to the Judiciary committee hearing next Monday and tell them in person.

Meng, or anyone, the following question has gnawed at me ever since first reading the bill...

Why, specifically, would HB 1188 be "totally un-passible in the legislature" if amended to include all users and use incidental to all lawful purposes?
 

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Meng, or anyone, the following question has gnawed at me ever since first reading the bill...

Why, specifically, would HB 1188 be "totally un-passible in the legislature" if amended to include all users and use incidental to all lawful purposes?
I don't know, man - that just what I've heard from legislative proponents of the bill as well as water policy analysts I trust, as well as outfitters working close to the bill/legislative reps.. My statement was based on my trust of people I know who work in the field and understand the realities and limitations of advancing legislation. Perhaps I am being too much of a pushover and just taking this as given. OF COURSE I would rather see private boaters and all navigable sections of river included. Often, moving things like this forward is better accomplished in strategic steps; in this particular case, I'm seeing the bill passed as being the appropriate strategic step. Once we have a foot in the door, the issue can be re-adressed and strengthened to include more users, ie US. HOWEVER, I don't discourage anyone from expressing specific interests - the state legislature should and must know that private boaters deserve protection of their rights as well. However, I simply wouldn't urge them to squash the bill if those amendments cant be included. I don't think that would serve the public well in the long run.
 

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OF COURSE I would rather see private boaters and all navigable sections of river included. Often, moving things like this forward is better accomplished in strategic steps; in this particular case, I'm seeing the bill passed as being the appropriate strategic step. Once we have a foot in the door, the issue can be re-adressed and strengthened to include more users, ie US. HOWEVER, I don't discourage anyone from expressing specific interests - the state legislature should and must know that private boaters deserve protection of their rights as well. However, I simply wouldn't urge them to squash the bill if those amendments cant be included. I don't think that would serve the public well in the long run.

I agree totally with this. I would definitely like to see an amendment to the bill to include private boaters, but I feel that we must support it as it is. We cannot allow the next boating season to start without legislation on the issue. The land owner on the Taylor will block passage to the commercial outfitters and this will set a very negative and difficult to overcome precedent.
 

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I find it interesting that although they are promoting the property as a "unique conservation retreat", "situated near the ski area", and "on the pristine Taylor River", they make no mention of the whitewater opportunities the area provides...guess it shows who they are catering to.

Here's their website:
Portfolio
 

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I agree with meng, bill, logan, Take, and cbrown. We all should support this bill..

I will be the first to say that this bill is not perfect but will set precident and and get colorado one step closer to a comprehensive right to float access bill.. I also feel that if passed it will be a shot over the bow of men like mr john hill who are on the other side of this...

Why, specifically, would HB 1188 be "totally un-passible in the legislature" if amended to include all users and use incidental to all lawful purposes?


To pass a bill there has to be a sponsor and for this bill it is Rep Curry. Rep Curry felt that bill such as you have asked for would be totally un-passible so she did not feel comfortable as a sponsor of such a bill... I guess political types dont like to carry a bill that will have no chance and I will trust Rep Curry's judgement on this one... So Rep Curry is the one who felt such a bill was totally unpassible in the legislature.

Rivers for what it is worth I would support your version of this bill!! But many of our peers would not and for what you want a ballot amendment would be needed (as no rep will sponsor such a bill) and the cost of one will cost us river users 1.5 - 2 million... This may be the next step for colorado and will only be helped by the passage of Curry's bill..

I feel that while this bill is not perfect it is a great step in the right direction and if passed will no doubt put all of us one step closer to a comprehensive right to float law in colorado...
 
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