Colo. rafters, landowners negotiate river dispute

SALIDA — A Colorado panel hopes to settle a clash between landowners and river rafters, balancing ranchers fears they’ll be sued if someone is hurt with river outfitters desire to protect their businesses

A task force set up after a rafting bill died in the state Legislature held its first meeting Wednesday in Salida.

“We are going to try to get neighbors to meet with neighbors without having to have legislation,” said Bob Hamel, a member of the task force. Hamel is Colorado River Outfitters Association president and owner of Arkansas River Tours in Cotopaxi.

The rafting dispute came to a head on the Taylor River last year when a developer told commercial rafters they could no longer float through his property. State Rep. Kathleen Curry, an unaffiliated state representative from Gunnison, proposed a bill in favor of the rafters.

But state lawmakers declined to intervene, and instead the 16-member Governor’s River Access Dispute Resolution Task Force was set up to resolve rafting disputes.



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