Sometimes a man's education has to cost someone his life. And the ranch goes away with it. I know that makes no difference to the landowner, because he clings to his dreams instead of seeking out reality. He may be a nice guy or he may be an ashoal. There'll come a day when someone comes to his door with an envelope, and says "You have been served" or words to that effect. All his defenses will come crashing down and the next 5-10 years will be bloody Hell for two families because one fool didn't want to hear about it until it bit him in the butt. One accident, and one good lawyer, and it's all gone because he didn't listen. Poetic? At times. Or it can be the plaintiff who is the ashole. Sometimes the plaintiff gets a lawyer without conscience who will take every nickel he has. I've seen that happen when a bad man brought suit against a good man. It was Hell for both families, but at least nobody died over it. Maybe should have though. Our courts are courts of law, not of justice. And people's fantasies do not serve them well in the dock.I have no problem with a rancher/ homeowner who runs livestock to fence across the river during low water to keep said livestock on his property. BUT, you gotta pull that fence during rafting season/high water because from personal experience, a wire fence across a river is a total death trap. No one died but they easily could have if they got tangled up in the fence in heavy current. Last time down the lower Piedra I had to cut two river wide fences, had two swimmers as a result of the first fence and lost a severely damaged damaged raft. ( It was recovered.) Note to Mr Landowner, why can’t you simply rig the fence like a third world gate where a loops of wire holds one end of the gate, simply release the upper loop, pull the fence across the river in say late March/ early April so rafters can do their thing and put the fence back when runoff is over. Lots easier for you (you don’t have to rebuild your fence) and the added bonus that no one died because of your fence. I hate to say it but my opinion is that until there are fatalities and lawsuits this is not gonna change in Colorado. Solution is simple and takes virtually no time to create and maintain. WTF ???
The landowner should be aware that having a fatality or serious injury, especially one that is so predictable, is far, far, far better to be had on somebody else's land. You do NOT want the suit, attractive nuisance, judgements etc. There is NO good outcome. Get used to that FACT. Tell the boaters they are trespassing, but then make their passage as safe as you possibly can and be nice about it. If you think its your water, build a big dam to hold it, and wait. The State will disabuse you of your naivette in no uncertain terms. NObody wins a pissing contest. You may have "rights," but the State has Power. And where you have flowing water, it's a lot cheaper to help people get on through, and that, safely.I’m sure this has been covered before, but what is the legality of property owners in Colorado running lines across the river to prevent float access?
But ... can you afford to be the one to do it?This is about as clear as mud legally in CO. We are a "navigable waterway can be floated" state which is the "if you can float it, you can boat it" argument. As soon as you step on river bank or river bottom you are trespassing. You would think that a dangerous obstacle made by a land owner would negate this, but I do not believe it does.
The underlying laws need clarification and to be defined in court to get a clear decision or to understand your options on that particular stretch would be my guess.
https://getpocket.com/explore/item/drawing-a-line-in-the-sand-over-river-rights?utm_source=pocket-newtab I've never tried to link internet content on the buzz but thought this a good article on the subject - hope the link works. Colorado has been in a no-mans land of conflicting legal precedent...www.mountainbuzz.com
You don’t own the river or that water, maybe some flow rights, but not every cfs unless you are pre Colorado river compact (assuming CO land).I guess us private property owners should just let everyone with a desire cross/ use our property?
If it has a navigable waterway or historical right of way, hell yes! Don't like it, don't buy it.I guess us private property owners should just let everyone with a desire cross/ use our property?
Interesting. So, if a landowner puts up a barrier across a navigable waterway and posts warning signage (or not) what would one be expected to do? If you get out to portage said barrier you are Definitely trespassing. What a lose-lose situation. Better put the warning signs at any possible put-insColorado Recreational Use Statue (CRUS) could be relative here. Again, up to court interpretation. US Circuit Court of Appeals 2019 ruling, while affirming CRUS, says land owners have immunity from liability "unless they act willfully in failing to guard or warn of known dangerous conditions that are likely to cause harm."
So...does a landowner putting wire across the river plus a warning sign count as suitable warning of hazard? Or does constructing a impediment across the river, a "navigable waterway" cause a dangerous condition which cannot be mitigated by any warning.
Here's a perspective written by Jason Blevins, thoughtful and frequent contributor to Colorado outdoor recreation news: