From The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel (Charles Ashby):
“What we tried to do with this bill was relate the statutes with reality,” said Rep. Kathleen Curry, the unaffiliated Gunnison legislator who introduced the bill with Sen. Mary Hodge, D-Brighton. “What unraveled the legislative process was the fear of litigation and how the courts would interpret (it). We had a bill that looked reasonable when you read the bill, but the opposition felt like … the courts would make a broader finding and open up everything.”
When Curry introduced the measure in January, it was designed to allow rafters to float down Colorado rivers through private land, touching the riverbed and banks only in cases of emergencies.
But when it reached the Senate, lawmakers there said the idea constituted a taking of private property. As a result, that chamber turned it into a study, but sent it to a nongovernmental organization made up of landowners and water companies, not recreational river users.
Curry said without the bill, a slew of ballot questions may be placed before voters this fall to decide the matter one way or the other. There are 16 pro-landowner measures pending, and four designed to open private land to all rafting.
Regardless of what gets on the ballot in November, Curry predicted the uneasy peace that has existed between rafting companies and landowners will end, and a heated war will erupt this summer between the two sides. She said she already is hearing reports of rafters cutting down fences that property owners have erected to stop them from traversing rivers that cross their land.
More HB 10-1188 coverage here.