Rafting bill faces hurdle on Capitol Hill today

Keep Westword Free
I Support
  • Local
  • Community
  • Journalism
  • logo

Support the independent voice of Denver and help keep the future of Westword free.

A rafting bill working its way through the state legislature that would allow for rafters to float through private land -- and even portage on private land in the event of low water -- faces a key test in the House Judiciary Committee today.

A response to a Gunnison County landowner recently blocking an outfitter from a longtime route on the Taylor River, House Bill 10-1188 protects the right of commercial operations to run historically stretches of river on private land. The controversy is pitting private fly-fishing operations against rafters

From the Aspen Daily News Online:

[State Rep. Kathleen] Curry's legislative effectiveness will be put to the test on Monday when the Judiciary Committee hears her proposed "Commercial Rafting Viability Act," which seeks to clarify existing Colorado law on whether commercial raft companies can float down a river that happens to run through private land.

"There are a lot of people who feel there are two sets of rights," Curry said. "But I feel we ought to find a way to make it work for both. And I think the committee will give it a fair hearing."

The bill would allow commercial outfitters to float through private land and allow for incidental contact due to low water with either the river bank or with rocks in the river.

And it also allows portaging around an obstruction or a hazard "if the portage makes the minimum possible use of the bed or banks that is necessary to safely avoid the hazard or obstruction."

The Colorado Independent covered the story last month, and here are links that illuminate both sides of the argument: the rafters' point of view, from the AVA blog, and the private-land side, courtesy Gunnison water attorney John Hill in this story.

"There isn't any right to float in Colorado," Hill said. "That's folklore."

(Image: Zaskoda's Flickr Photostream)

Keep Westword Free... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Denver with no paywalls.

We use cookies to collect and analyze information on site performance and usage, and to enhance and customize content and advertisements. By clicking 'X' or continuing to use the site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. To find out more, visit our cookies policy and our privacy policy.