Colorado rafting outfitters, who contribute $142 million to Colorado’s economy every year, just won their first battle in securing their right to float rivers in Colorado. But there are still rapids to negotiate ahead.
Their ability to operate under threat because out-of-state developers want to prohibit licensed river outfitters from providing trips on historically rafted rivers, the 2010 River Outfitters Viability Act (HB 1188) protects Colorado’s tourism industry by clarifying the rights of commercial guides to operate on Colorado’s historically run rivers. The bill passed 7-3 out of the House Judiciary Committee on Monday, Feb. 8, and now heads to the Colorado House of Representatives.
“It is a very important step in a sensitive issue,” says guide and river advocate Danny Andres. “If this bill does not pass this will affect us all in some way. If you’re a private boater or commercial rafter, there’s the potential of losing access to many of Colorado’s rivers; if you’re a retailer selling paddlesports gear there’s a possibility that your sales will be impacted due to fewer rivers to paddle.”
Bringing the issue to the forefront is the Class III section of the Taylor River, which, like many other Colorado rivers, passes through private property.
What You Can Do:
To help keep Colorado’s rivers open for business and fun, advocates encourage river runners to contact these key Legislators below in support of HB 1188 now (even if you are not in their district it’s OK to contact them). Please ask them to vote YES on HB 1188. (Phone calls are the #1 priority; if you have time, send them a quick follow-up email.)
Rep. Ellen Roberts, 303-866-2914, email@example.com ( Archuleta, La Plata, Montezuma, San Juan counties)
Rep. BJ Nikkel 303-866-2907 firstname.lastname@example.org, (Ft Collins. Larimer)
Rep. Jim Riesberg 303-866-2929 email@example.com ( Weld county)
Rep. Cheri Gerou 303-866-2582 firstname.lastname@example.org (jeffco)
Rep. Frank McNulty 303-866-2936 email@example.com (Douglas county)
Rep. Scott Tipton 303-866-2955 firstname.lastname@example.org (Delta,Dolores,Montezuma,Montrose,Ouray,San Miguel counties)
Sample Phone script (and email) to legislator/s:
Hi. This is ____________ . (identify yourself, private boater, business owner, or that you’re employed by ____ business, river enthusiast)
I would like to ask you to vote Yes on House Bill 1188 the Colorado River Outfitters Viability Act on the House Floor.
THIS legislation is crucial to keeping Colorado’s Rivers open for business and fun. I hope we can count on your vote for the future of river recreation in Colorado. This river running is an important sector of the tourism and outdoor recreation industry.
(Add a personal note about your perspective, business and why this is good for Colorado’s economic future and or you local community)
Thank you _____ (leave name and #)
For more information and background visit: www.croa.org
Additional action info HERE
]Want more info? Below is a letter Andres wrote to Mountain Buzz in support of the bill:
I am a private boater, former guide and paddlesports sales rep. So this is going to affect me in multiple ways. If this fails I will be limited on where I can paddle and with more limitations on this sport less people will purchase gear limiting my ability to make a living.
The outfitter’s association (CROA) encourages supporting this bill so that we all can have some basis in law for a right to float. The outfitters worked to develop a bill that they think they can get passed. They are spending quite a bit of money on this and it is all coming out of their own pockets. It doesn’t matter if you fish, kayak, raft or innertube — support this bill. Get at least one bill on the books that supports a right to float. Once passed it is much easier down the road to include all users.
The repercussions of this bill not passing will be huge. If it doesn’t pass, the private landowner on the Taylor is going to block passage to all water users or charge to float through, then word is going to get out to other landowners. Then the Elk in Steamboat, Cheeseman, the Silver Bullet on the Arkansas, Lake Fork and any other river that has a private landowner that does not want boaters floating by will be blocked to us all.
So you say “So what”, then we will get a ballot initiative to make this happen. Well good luck on that because my understanding from people that have been involved in ballot initiatives is that they cost at least $5million. You can figure just $3 million on effective TV advertising alone, who is going to pay for that, are you? Plus, can you guarantee it will pass even if you could raise the money? Can you do it without the Outfitter’s help!
If the fishermen and private boaters want to get involved, then do it and do it now. Do not just sit back saying I am not going to support this bill this round because they are excluding me as a private boater or fisherman. They are not purposefully excluding you. They just need to get a right to float to pass to provide a future basis in law for all kinds of floating. The outfitters testified last night before the Judiciary Committee of the Legislature that they would like all boaters to be included! If this does not pass, it will then be too late to get involved. Get AW, CW, Trout Unlimited and whoever else motivated to step up and get in this fight. It has been said that AW and CW have been working behind the scenes; well I for one would love to hear what they are working on and why we have not heard from them on this. From where I am sitting the only ones that are doing anything is CROA and the only way the message is getting out is MTN Buzz.
These landowners that CROA is going up against have much deeper pockets than us boaters, so we need to band together and support this bill and get it passed. What needs to happen right now is an e-mail campaign to your local representatives and senators stating that you support this bill how it is written, but you would much rather prefer it to be written as too include all water users. Get your families, co-workers and anybody else that can write an e-mail involved.