Confused on RFTA trail rules
(This letter was originally addressed to the Roaring Fork Transportation Authority, or RFTA)Dear Editor:Thank you very much for sending me a copy of your trail rules and regulations in response to my inquiry. This document has, however, left me even more confused than before. I was obviously relieved to see included in the “USE REGULATIONS” sign to be posted at the trail head rule No. 3 “Respect private property – stay on the trails at all times.” This seems to be a reasonable approach assuming you have some plan for enforcement.Then, several pages further into this document, I came across section 2-3.8. (Ironically titled “FISHING RESTRICTED”) which goes on to say that fishing is indeed permitted? Wondering how, in a catch and release area, people could land a fish and return it to the water without leaving the trail, I called your project manager, Mike Hermes, who told me that fishing will indeed be permitted and that “staying on trail” included wading the river. This brings us back to my original question. If you plan open public access through our backyards where there has never before been public access, how do you plan to mitigate what appears to be an unavoidable trespass situation?As you should be aware, Colorado Law allows float fishing on any navigable waters but does not allow wading through areas where private landowners own the bottom of the river as is the case throughout this trail corridor. Unless you intend to use your trail to encourage illegal activities, it would seem you should have some plan to mitigate this obviously inevitable trespass situation. It also leads to several other obvious questions. If “Stay on trail at all times” does not really mean stay on trail through our property does it also not really mean stay on trail though wetlands and the Blue Heron Rookery? Does “No Hunting” not really mean no hunting? Does “No fires” really mean no fires? I think you can see where I’m going with this. Hopefully you do not consider yourselves exempt from fire bans and trespass laws.If you have any intention of mitigating impacts to private property and wildlife through your corridor, your rules will have to be simple, clear, and consistent. If you do not plan to mitigate impacts you should expect every possible resistance from landowners and hopefully environmentalists and lovers of wildlife throughout the valley as well.It is my sincere hope that these issues can be resolved cooperatively.Teresa FaberCarbondale
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