Taylor River: Rafting rift leads to agreement for this season

A picture named raftingarkriver.jpg

From the Associated Press (Steven K. Paulson) via the Summit Daily News:

Property owners have declared a temporary truce in a dispute with commercial rafters and will allow rafting on their property this summer. Jackson-Shaw, the company that owns the Wilder on the Taylor fishing reserve, said Friday it will grant the two Taylor River rafting companies, Three Rivers Outfitting and Scenic River Tours, permission to float through its property this summer…

Lewis Shaw, chairman of the company, said it will take time to work out a permanent agreement and he wanted to give rafters a chance to begin their season. “While mediation between Jackson-Shaw and the two Taylor River rafting companies continues, Jackson-Shaw recognizes that Three Rivers and Scenic are at the threshold of their commercial rafting season and that it will take time to finalize any formal agreement. Accordingly, as a show of good faith, Jackson-Shaw has decided to give Three Rivers and Scenic permission to float through Wilder on the Taylor this summer,” Shaw said.

Bob Hamel, chairman of the Colorado River Outfitters Association, said it was a nice gesture but rafters believe they don’t need Shaw’s permission to raft the river. Rafting companies were already going ahead with their new season, he said. “Jackson-Shaw is not entitled to grant permission. The permission is in the Forest Service permit. I think this is premature because we’re still in negotiations,” Hamel said.

Mediation between the two rafting companies and Jackson-Shaw began on April 22 and remains ongoing. Both sides have agreed to keep the details of their negotiations secret. Shaw imposed several conditions, including limits on rafting between May 15 and Aug. 15 if there is sufficient water. The companies will be allowed four trips each day between 9:30 a.m. and 11 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. to 3 p.m. so fishermen can also enjoy their sport. Rafters will be allowed on the property to carry their rafts across a bridge…

Rep. Kathleen Curry, an unaffiliated state representative from Gunnison, said she believes voters will side with rafters, who have exercised their rights to use Colorado rivers for decades and have become a symbol of Colorado’s outdoor life. Eric Anderson, who represents a coalition of property owners, including fishermen who barred rafting this year on their property, said he believes fishermen will win in the court of public opinion because their property rights are being threatened.

More coverage from the Colorado Independent (David O. Williams). From the article:

The company that prompted one of the more hotly contested bills of the legislative session – House Bill 1188 dealing with commercial river rafting – announced Friday it would allow two outfitters to float the Taylor River through its property this summer. Officials for Jackson-Shaw, owner of the Wilder on the Taylor fishing reserve, said they will continue mediation efforts with Three Rivers Outfitting and Scenic River Tours while allowing the two companies to continue navigating the river through the private property…

Jackson-Shaw won’t allow rafters to fish the Taylor through the preserve, but they can portage a bridge (go around on land) as long they are “respectful” of the property, and the boaters must also limit the number of trips and stick to certain times and dates. “We believe that these rules are reasonable and will allow the rafting companies to meet demand, operate profitable businesses, and conduct far more commercial trips through the property this summer than last summer,” Jackson-Shaw Chairman and CEO Lewis Shaw said in a release.

Gov. Bill Ritter Thursday said he will work with landowner groups and the commercial rafting industry to resolve differences and avoid a looming ballot measure on the contentious issue.

More HB 10-1188 coverage here. More 2010 Colorado elections coverage here.

One Response to Taylor River: Rafting rift leads to agreement for this season

  1. L Brown says:

    The Consitution allows fishing through this section. Fisherman do not need Mr. Shaw’s permission.

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