Bill to allow boaters access to streams running through private property - Colorado Fishing Forum

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Old 01-14-2010, 03:42 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Bill to allow boaters access to streams running through private property

http://coyotegulch.wordpress.com/201...te-property-3/
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State Representative Kathleen Curry plans to introduce bill to allow boaters access to streams running through private property
from Coyote Gulch by coyotegulch

A picture named taylorriver.jpg

From the Gunnison Country Times:

The debate over whether there’s actually a “right to float” in Colorado played out locally before. In a high-profile case a few years ago, an outfitter who had historically boated the Lake Fork of the Gunnison River was sued for civil trespass, for floating through private land. The company, Cannibal Outdoors, ultimately went out of business amidst the litigation.

The case was settled out of court, so the matter never became part of case law. The question of whether landowners have grounds for such civil suits has lingered in the minds of proponents of the state’s $142 million river running industry ever since. It’s widely recognized that current law protects boaters from a criminal charge if they don’t touch bottom while floating through private property. Likewise, it’s long been held that property owners of parcels through which rivers and streams flow own the underlying stream bed. “Both sides definitely have enough information to create their own philosophies about what these laws say,” said Bob Hamel, chairman of the Colorado River Outfitters Association and owner of Arkansas River Tours in Cotopaxi.

Local water attorney John Hill represented the landowners in the case on the Lake Fork, and has staunchly argued that there is no right to float in Colorado. He believes that landowners have the legal right to control access to waterways because they own the underlying streambed.

“We don’t think that’s the way it is or should be,” countered Hamel. “We’re trying to protect an industry. We’re being pushed.”

Hill, whose firm is currently representing the landowner on the Taylor River who is attempting to bar access by commercial outfitters, said that Curry’s bill is unconstitutional. Allowing commercial boaters to portage, he argued, is a “taking” with no prospect for just compensation. “This is a physical invasion taking,” he explained. “It’s authorizing people to go on private property.”[...]

Jackson Shaw, a Texas-based real estate development company, purchased what has historically been called the Wapiti Ranch, six miles up the Taylor Canyon from Almont, for $20.5 million in late summer 2007. The approximately 2,000-acre hay meadow down-river of Harmel’s Resort is now the site of a subdivision development called Wilder on the Taylor. Company CEO Lewis Shaw II is a part-time resident of the nearby Crystal Creek community along the Taylor River. Historically, Scenic River Tours and Three Rivers Outfitting have guided float trips through the section of river that flows through the new development, without cause for alarm from the previous owner. That’s changed since Jackson Shaw became the new owners. Lewis Shaw has informed the two local outfitters that they won’t be allowed to continue floating the section of river that flows through the development, threatening legal action if they don’t abide. Wilder on the Taylor is what Hill’s partner and longtime local water attorney Dick Bratton called a “recreational fishing subdivision.” Jackson Shaw has conducted improvements on the property, and in the river, to improve the fishing, he said. Similarly, the Cannibal case was over the same competing interests. The landowners maintained a fishing lease on the section of water in question, with which they believed the frequent commercial raft trips interfered. “If this guy had owned this river in his family for the last hundred years I would feel somewhat differently,” Mark Schumacher, owner of Three Rivers, said of Lewis Shaw. “But he bought the property to make it a fishing (subdivision) and he knew that people floated through it. We just don’t want anything taken away that we’ve been doing for 20 years.”[...]

Curry plans to introduce the bill — which, she said, she agreed to carry for the two local outfitters — in coming weeks. She expects a constitutional challenge of the bill, should it be written into law, but views it as necessary for protecting commercial rafting in Colorado. Bratton, on the other hand, calls the proposal a “special interest” bill, because it would only protect two companies on a two-mile stretch of one river…

“In Colorado, it’s almost impossible to float a river without touching something,” said Curry. “The statute does not realistically address normal boating conditions in this state.”

More coverage from the Fort Collins Coloradoan (Bobby Magill):

Though the controversies sparking the bill originate along the Taylor River in Gunnison County, the bill could impact all commercially navigable rivers statewide, including the Poudre. “The need is, somebody who owns property could stop you from floating,” said one of the bill’s chief proponents, David Costlow of Rocky Mountain Adventures in Fort Collins. “There are a number of businesses that could be shut down.”

The bill, the River Rafting Jobs Protection Act, would allow commercial river outfitters to float on waterways that have historically been used for float trips. The bill would prevent the outfitters from being liable for criminal or civil trespass as long as they access the waterway via a public right of way.

Rafters would also be given the right to make “incidental” contact with the riverbank or the riverbed and a similar right to portaging, all of which today may lead to a trespassing charge. “The gist of the bill is that they cannot block the river and cannot deny the right of commercial outfitters to pass through,” Curry said Monday.

More 2010 Colorado legislation coverage here.


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Old 01-14-2010, 05:54 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Default Re: Bill to allow boaters access to streams running through private property

While it may make crowded rivers even more so, i'm so sick of our rivers being sold to idiot millionaires tha tdont fish !! I hope this bill goes thru, and navigable waters becomes a state mandate. Private water sucks. Montana, Wisconsin, Oregon and others have some of the best water access and everyone who fishes there absolutely treasures the privelege.
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Old 01-14-2010, 08:02 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Default Re: Bill to allow boaters access to streams running through private property

I would love to see access to the "high water mark" here in colorado.
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Old 01-14-2010, 08:02 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Default Re: Bill to allow boaters access to streams running through private property

Hmmmm. As someone posted the other day, it appears that this bill as presently constituted would benefit only commercial operations, not a couple of buddies floating on their own to fish.



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Old 01-14-2010, 08:37 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Default Re: Bill to allow boaters access to streams running through private property

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Originally Posted by gofindyourowndamnfish
Hmmmm. As someone posted the other day, it appears that this bill as presently constituted would benefit only commercial operations, not a couple of buddies floating on their own to fish.
Yah i could see that here in colorado. money talks bull walks.

It would be nice to see all river water open at high water mark to public.
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Old 01-15-2010, 03:29 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Default Re: Bill to allow boaters access to streams running through private property

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Originally Posted by gofindyourowndamnfish
Hmmmm. As someone posted the other day, it appears that this bill as presently constituted would benefit only commercial operations, not a couple of buddies floating on their own to fish.
...if it is just for commercial vessles big deal!...doesnt do anything to help the everyday guy...and it sounds like it is just for commercial vessles...
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Old 01-15-2010, 01:35 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Default Re: Bill to allow boaters access to streams running through private property

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Originally Posted by zman
Quote:
Originally Posted by gofindyourowndamnfish
Hmmmm. As someone posted the other day, it appears that this bill as presently constituted would benefit only commercial operations, not a couple of buddies floating on their own to fish.
...if it is just for commercial vessles big deal!...doesnt do anything to help the everyday guy...and it sounds like it is just for commercial vessles...
Ditto

and by not including fisherman, I think it's possible we might not ever be part of any such legislation. I don't buy the argument this will open it up for others. This bill is a bad deal IMO!
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Old 01-15-2010, 02:58 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Default Re: Bill to allow boaters access to streams running through private property

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Originally Posted by GrnMtn Eye Chaser
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Originally Posted by zman
Quote:
Originally Posted by gofindyourowndamnfish
Hmmmm. As someone posted the other day, it appears that this bill as presently constituted would benefit only commercial operations, not a couple of buddies floating on their own to fish.
...if it is just for commercial vessles big deal!...doesnt do anything to help the everyday guy...and it sounds like it is just for commercial vessles...
Ditto

and by not including fisherman, I think it's possible we might not ever be part of any such legislation. I don't buy the argument this will open it up for others. This bill is a bad deal IMO!
Not unless we as fisherman get involved...Just saying...
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Old 01-15-2010, 03:09 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Default Re: Bill to allow boaters access to streams running through private property

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Originally Posted by cocoking
Not unless we as fisherman get involved...Just saying...
Good point. With a the proposed bill having the name "River Rafting Jobs Protection Act" I doubt this bill will help out those of us who fish - maybe I'm missing something, but if that's the case we should be pushing for a bill of our own to parallel this one or what ideas do people here have?

I'll stir the pot and go so far as to say that maybe we should be writing letters to ask our congressmen to kill this bill?? Sorry, but if I were a big land owner (and I'm not), I wouldn't be in favor of commercial operators making money by floating through my private property. Some recreational floaters or fishermen out having fun - maybe, but not a company making money by doing so.
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Old 01-15-2010, 04:44 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Default Re: Bill to allow boaters access to streams running through private property

Take the argument from a land owners perspective (which I am not). I do not think that I would want people traipsing through my property even if the law said they could. Walk down any river in Colorado and tell me that there is not some environmental impact to the area because of anglers. You can not possibly walk/float down higher elevation rivers without exiting the waterway because of obstacle, rapid, or high water. Look at how the rivers in Colorado are filled with litter from fisherman. All of us don't treat our waters this way but it is very obvious it happens quite regularly. I would love to fish previously unfished water ways and would respect the private land to the best of my abilities but the burdon of clean-up would fall solely on the land owner.
Also, if I worked my azz off to be able to pay for riverfront property, I would want this all to myself, wouldn't you?
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