Here’s the release from Governor Ritter’s office (Myung Oak Kim/Todd Hartman):
Gov. Bill Ritter today issued a report outlining a series of proposals for resolving disputes between landowners and rafters in Colorado. He also signed an executive order creating the River Access Mediation Commission to provide a way for some of the most contentious conflicts between boaters and property owners to be addressed.
“I’m pleased to announce this report, and the formation of a mediation commission, so we can move forward in resolving these issues fairly and thoughtfully,” Gov. Ritter said. “I believe a mediation commission can work its way through these matters in a civil, reasoned way where all parties’ views are respected and considered in developing a resolution that could alleviate the need for litigation.”
The Governor’s River Access Dispute Resolution Task Force was a 17-member group created in July to help craft ways to sort out conflicts on Colorado rivers on a stretch-by-stretch basis as those disputes arise. Gov. Ritter created the task force through executive order as part of an agreement with stakeholders to set aside numerous conflicting ballot measures on the issue.
The task force report includes eight unanimous recommendations to the Governor on ways to limit disputes between various parties. The recommendations include creation of the River Access Mediation Commission to address the thorniest disagreements. Participation by disputing parties would be voluntary, and the commission would not have the power of arbitration. The report can be accessed on the website of the Colorado Department of Natural Resources at http://dnr.state.co.us/
“I commend the hard work of the task force in developing this report, and extend my thanks for its effort in working through difficult issues that required members to find common ground,” Gov. Ritter said. “The report includes a host of recommendations with great potential to reduce friction between rafters and landowners. I look forward to sharing the recommendations with Governor-Elect John Hickenlooper, and urge him, along with the State Legislature, to thoughtfully review the report.”
More coverage from the Associated Press via The Durango Herald:
The bill was prompted by disputes between landowners who don’t want boaters using waterways flowing through their property and boaters who say the state’s waters belong to the public. The conflict came to a head on western Colorado’s Taylor River last year when a developer told commercial rafters they could no longer float through his property.
“I believe a mediation commission can work its way through these matters in a civil, reasoned way where all the parties’ views are respected and considered in developing a resolution that could alleviate the need for litigation,” Ritter said in a statement.