American Whitewater is protecting your right to fish, float, and play on Colorado's rivers and
Lake Fork, Gunnison: Landowner is trying to control use & issue permits
Cheesman Gorge, South Platte: Private club has built death trap to block boaters
Decker's Run, South Platte: Landowner trying to claim ownership of river
Taylor River: Gun-toting landowner charged with threatening boaters
Florida River: Canoe club ordered off river by sheriff for "trespassing"
Clear Creek: Town won right to allocate water for recreation at Golden Park
WHY SHOULD YOU BE CONCERNED?
Several different navigability conflicts are moving through Colorado's courts. We won one. We're
about to win a second. But if we lose the third or fourth, you could lose your ability to access
and enjoy ALL of Colorado's rivers. Don't sit idly by while a few selfish individuals with deep
pockets try to keep you off the State's rivers.
WHO'S ACCESS IS AT RISK?
Boaters, fishermen, hunters, waders, swimmers, picnickers and everyone that enjoys visiting
Colorado's rivers may lose their ability to enjoy these rivers if we lose these legal battles.
Fishermen have already lost the ability to wade on most rivers in the state. Now boaters may lose
the ability to float too. And, if you're not allowed to float on the rivers, then you're not
allowed to fish or otherwise use the river. This is true regardless of whether is flat water or
WHERE ARE THE CURRENT ACCESS CONFLICTS?
Lake Fork of the Gunnison - American Whitewater has joined Jack Nichols and Cannibal Outdoors in
defense of the right of passage. We are asking the court to declare that private property owners
cannot prevent (by any means) a boater's right of downstream passage on this or any other
waterway in the state.
Cheesman Gorge of the South Platte - American Whitewater's actions have convinced the DA to back
off on prosecuting boaters. As a result, the Sheriff's office is only taking reports and not
issuing tickets. The bad news is that the Sportsman's Paradise is still blocking the river with a
deadly grate and future confrontations remain likely. Boating this stretch remains an exercise in
guerrilla stealth tactics or requires a healthy portage.
Deckers Run of the South Platte - American Whitewater has filed suit to declare a stretch of
river public by virtue of adverse possession. We are asking the court to acknowledge the boater's
right to float through unmolested.
Taylor River - A landowner was found guilty of two counts of misdemeanor menacing after
threatening several boaters with a gun; his sentence includes: 10 days in jail, 1 year probation,
96 hours public service, nearly $450 in fines, anger management counseling, a ban on carrying
firearms, and a requirement to send apologies to the victims.
HOW CAN YOU HELP?
Help yourself by making a donation to American Whitewater's Colorado River Access Fund. Send
donations to: American Whitewater, Colorado Access Fund, P.O. Box 636, Margaretville, NY 12455,
or call 866-boat-4-aw.
We need your help and donations to continue helping
Boaters' rights are under siege in Colorado. Three groups of boaters on three different rivers
have been accused of trespassing during 2001, and dozens of boaters have been harrassed on other
rivers throughout the state. The basic problem is that there is broad confusion within the courts
and law enforcement circles about the state of the law. American Whitewater has established a
dedicated fund to improve boater access rights in Colorado.
American Whitewater and the Colorado Whitewater Association (CWWA) are working with these
boaters to have charges dismissed and to ensure continued future access to the State's rivers.
American Whitewater has established has an access fund dedicated to protecting your rights to
access Colorado's rivers. Please make a contribution and help defend your fellow boaters!
Lake Fork Gunnison (May, 2001)
Cannibal Outdoors, a river outfitter, was recently named in a lawsuit in Gunnison County District
Court alleging civil trespass for conducting float trips on the Lake Fork of the Gunnison River
through the private property of Gateview Ranch. Land owners, private boaters and CROA
representatives have participated in a Water Surface Recreation Forum sponsored by the Department
of Natural Resources over the past two years seeking ways to accommodate conflicts between
landowners and floaters. In spite of these efforts, Gateview Ranch has recently indicated that it
"respectfully disagrees that there is any legal right of the public to float the Lake Fork where it
flows through private property." Boaters held a Right to Float Rally
the Lake Fork Gunnison River in June 2001. American Whitewater has hired an attorney and is seeking
to intervene on behalf of the boating community.
Cheesman Gorge, South Platte River (June 9, 2001)
The Park Co Deputy Sheriffs currently consider floating through Sportsman's Paradise trespassing.
Boaters typically portage or float over a dam and under a metal grate hanging from the club's
entrance bridge without ever touching club property. In this event, boaters report being yelled at,
accused of breaking the law, and intimidated by Sportsman's Paradise members who shoveled dirt on
the boaters from the bridge. Dave Eckhart, Chris Webster, Jeb, and American Whitewater board member
Tim Kelly were cited for 2nd degree criminal trespassing. More information is available at mountainbuzz.com/wwwboard/index2.pl?read=20711
Charges were dismissed following a fire at the local courthouse.
Florida River (June 6, 2001)
A canoer was escorted off the river by a deputy sheriff. No charges were filed. American Whitewater
is working with the boater to educate the sheriff's department about Colorado's navigability laws.
In a fourth incident, a landowner on the Taylor River was found guilty this Spring of two counts of
misdemeanor menacing (no contest plea) after threatening several boaters with a gun. The
landowner's sentence includes 10 days in jail, 1 year probation, 96 hours public service, and about
$450 in fines. He also has to attend anger management counseling, carry no firearms, and send
letters of apology to the victims.