E-mail letters, March 3, 2010

Avoid ‘navigable waters’ in any state legislation

Colorado House Bill 1188 has certainly drawn comments from a wide variety of interests — all a healthy dialogue that in the long run will hopefully result in some solution to a troublesome issue

However, our state legislators need to be careful in their wording of such legislation. Most of the published comments I’ve read throw one very dangerous term — included in the proposed legislation — about with apparent abandon. That term is “navigable waters.”

My understanding is that Colorado currently has no “navigable waters,” according to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and therefore, more importantly, to the Environmental Protection Agency. This is extremely important.

For many years, congressional legislation (Senate Bill 787) has been repeatedly introduced to amend the federal Water Pollution Control Act to “clarify” the jurisdiction of the United States over waters of the United States. The “clarification” would include “all” waters — replacing the term “navigable waters.” Once more, there is an attempt by the federal government to intercede even further into state’s and individual’s control over property.

Today, Colorado is spared the federal intervention and dictatorial control of the EPA over our streams and rivers because none of them are “navigable waters.” However, if our own Legislature decides to include and define certain Colorado streams and rivers as “navigable,”  that could open a box much more dangerous and interceding than Pandora’s Box ever was.

Be very careful — replace the term “navigable water” with “raftable stream,” “deep stream” or some other term that doesn’t include “navigable” or “floatable.”

My family has owned “navigable” riverfront property in both Arkansas and Idaho. I have personal experience with the way those states handle this issue facing Colorado. Nothing is simple, but it’s much, much simpler to resolve if the federal government isn’t involved.

Tom Howe

Hotchkiss

Hislop is quick thinking and a true conservative

The first day that I met Bob Hislop, we were at a speech emphasizing the benefits of limited constitutional government, where I almost collapsed.

Although Bob Hislop was on the other side of the room, the same Secret Service eyes that guarded Ronald Reagan noticed my worsening color. Before I knew what was happening, Hislop was whisking me out of the room to a place where I could recuperate. He not only stayed with me until he was sure that my condition was stable, but then his wife, Krysstine, took the time to find and reassure my worried wife.

Since that evening, we have often had the chance to talk, and I have become increasingly in awe of Bob Hislop, not only for his street sense, but also for his dedication to the ever-more-important values of free markets and limited constitutional government.

I believe the citizens of Colorado House District 54 would be well served with Bob Hislop being their representative.

Elliot Fladen

Denver

Rafting bill needed now to protect Colorado waters

I’d like to address some of the misinformation in the Feb. 26 column by Ken Spann and Rebecca Frank, “Impractical rafting bill threatens Colorado’s property rights Mr. Spann tells an imaginary tale of unlimited numbers of rafts going down a river all day long and damaging diversion structures and fences.

The truth is, House Bill 1188 is moderate, practical and sensible. It simply allows commercial rafting companies to continue rafting on stretches of river where they have historical use. Virtually every stretch of river being commercially run requires a permit from a government agency such as the Forest Service, BLM, National Park Service or Colorado State Parks. These permits require strict adherence to specific launch times, maximum numbers of clients and boats that can be launched.  These restrictions on commercial rafters are intended to help other river users to know when and where rafts will be on which section of river.

In my 25 years in the commercial rafting business, I am not aware of any damage to fences, diversion structures or private property caused by the commercial rafting industry. HB 1188 specifically states that commercial companies will be liable for any damage they cause. The legislation actually adds liability protection for the landowner and clarifies existing law. That’s why the Colorado District Attorney’s Association supports HB 1188.

Mr. Spann and Ms. Frank suggest rafting companies should reach common-sense agreements with landowners. Commercial rafting companies have done just that many times in the past .

I have personally worked with Mr. Spann on access issues on the Gunnison River. Yet now we are in a situation where a new landowner has said there will be no boating allowed.

This isn’t just about the Gunnison Valley. This is a statewide issue, and there are several rivers where landowners are trying to stop rafting on public waters. If HB 1188 does not pass, you will see many more landowners blocking river use for all.

HB 1188 just clarifies our ability to continue doing business as we have in the past. That’s why the Colorado Tourism Association supports it. Colorado is one of only two states that have not clarified the right to float. Now is Colorado’s time.

Matt Brown

Scenic River Tours, Inc.

Gunnison

Fruita mimics Boulder with marijuana rules

I feel like I went to sleep in Fruita and woke up in Boulder.

First, it was licensing marijuana shops and wanting to tax them a paltry 5 percent tax. Then the Fruita City Council voted to license a convenience store, abutting Fruita Monument High School, to sell beer.

To make us feel good about their decisions, the council zoned the “head shops” into a business district.  That business district is populated by a world-renowned candy confectioner and another shop that displays Colorado’s best wines.

Wow, BC Bud, high-end munchies and a quality jug for the party ride to Grand Junction.  The beer being sold at the high school will “only be 3.2,” so no worries there.

Has this council learned anything from the past 90 days? Does Massachusetts ring any bells? The answer to both questions is a resounding, No!

Council members proclaim that passing a resolution to enforce federal law concerning possession and use of marijuana might cause someone to sue. Let them sue. No court is going to require Fruita to violate federal law. Just because President Obama orders his Washington toadies to not enforce federal marijuana law does not change the law.

Fruita voters, if you vote “yes” on the 5 percent tax on marijuana you are doing two things:  giving your approval for marijuana dispensaries to operate in Fruita and precluding a proper tax on marijuana equivalent to what other tobacco products are taxed. Vote “no” on the 5 percent tax.

The good news is that Fruita has some very solid conservatives running for the three open council seats that can help conservative Councilman Moss. All we have to do is vote the two sitting liberals out and the conservatives Fuller, Schuette, and Gunyan in. Afterwards, I would be glad to serve tea at the party

Dan Moore

Fruita



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