Panel will mediate river access disputes

Gov. Bill Ritter ordered the creation of a River Access Mediation Commission on Thursday to try to help resolve disputes between boaters and property owners on Colorado waterways.

The action was one of eight recommendations made by a governor’s task force created to come up with ways to address river-access conflicts. Its report also was released Thursday.

The commission is to address some of the most contentious conflicts. Disputing parties would participate voluntarily, and the commission wouldn’t have arbitration power, the governor’s office said.

Colorado law says floating on waterways through private property is legal, but it prohibits touching the bed or banks, which is one source of conflict. Some landowners say they can exclude boaters from floating over privately owned streambeds, which has led to litigation.

Other recommendations are:

Official signs delineating land-use boundaries along waterways and areas that are available or off-limits to public access.

Advocating for consistent enforcement of laws, such as those regarding trespass, illegal obstruction of waterways (such as with fences) and boating under the influence.

Legislation clarifying whether landowners are liable when persons floating over private property are injured.

The task force couldn’t agree on vessel identification to aid in law enforcement. But it recommended further exploration of the idea, including how it would be funded.


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