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Don’t fence us out

Dear Editor:

The right of individuals to float historically navigable rivers is being threatened, and the time is now to stand up and support legislation that can help permanently ensure rights of passage on Colorado rivers.

A wealthy out-of-state developer from Texas is subdividing tracts of land along the Taylor River near Almont for luxury cabins and is attempting to close off all commercial river outfitting – rafting and float fishing – through that stretch of river.

If this is allowed to happen, it could set a dangerous precedent not only for commercial floaters, but also for private river users on many Colorado rivers – including the Blue, Yampa and Roaring Fork, locally – and could be the first step to taking away the rights that we all have traditionally enjoyed to navigate the waters that belong to all of us.

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Colorado law, while strict compared to many other states, has traditionally allowed floating through private property because landowners do not own the river, even if their property happens to include the stream bed. We cannot let this right begin to be diminished.

The Colorado River Outfitters Association has been instrumental in gathering support for House Bill 1188, which would allow incidental contact and portage rights around obstacles while floating through private property. If you have your own personal watercraft, or book guided float fishing or rafting trips and help contribute $142 million to the annual state economy, or know one of the countless Coloradans who have worked in the river outfitting business, or simply don’t believe that an individual or business can shut down everyone’s right to enjoy what is rightfully theirs, then help support this bill now.

Please call Rep. Curry at (303) 866-2945 or Sen. Schwartz at (303) 866-4871 to voice your support for House Bill 1188. Visit croa.org for comprehensive info (including the developer’s letter), to submit your own letter (we need as many as possible), or to make a much needed donation to fight yet another out-of-state interest trying to sell us out and shut us out.

David Johnson

owner, Crystal Fly Shop


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