Printed letters, Feb. 18, 2010

House Bill 1188 gives people right to trespass

Bill Grant’s recent column regarding Rep. Kathleen Curry’s House Bill 1188 ignored the main issue of the bill, which is that it would give commercial river guides the right to trespass across private property without the landowners’ permission. It would overturn decades of case law and statutes that have served our state well.

While I would be quick to argue the economic and cultural importance of rafting to Colorado, it should be noted that this industry has developed and flourished under the conditions imposed by existing laws and constitutional guarantees of private property rights.

This bill was written because of a problem between one landowner and a rafting company on the Taylor River near Gunnison. It is never wise to make large, sweeping changes through legislation to fix a problem between two individuals. Certainly the solution to such a problem is not taking the private property rights of every farmer or rancher in the state who happens to have a stream running through his land

The agricultural community is united in opposition to this bill, as are other groups including Club 20 and the Creekside Coalition.

I would like to thank Reps. Laura Bradford and Steve King for voting against the bill in the House and protecting the rights of landowners.

CARLYLE CURRIER, Secretary

Colorado Farm Bureau Federation

Molina

Help protect access to our public rivers

House Bill 1188 is a crucial step in the right direction to protect public access to Colorado’s rivers. Although this bill is worded to protect Colorado’s commercial rafting industry, it will also help to protect the recreational, river-running public.

If this bill fails to pass many, if not all, rivers in Colorado could become off-limits to the public. All that is required is for a private property owner to own one acre that crosses a river and they could do the same as the owners of the Wapiti Ranch in Gunnison County are attempting to do —  stop all access. No more boating, recreational or commercial.

Bill Grant’s Feb. 10 column, “Freedom-to-float bill deserves quick passage in Legislature,” does a much better job of discussing the issues that this bill tries to address than I can, but he does stop short in addressing the fact that if the Wapiti Ranch is successful in stopping commercial river companies access, it also means that it will stop recreational river access — not only on the Taylor River, but on rivers throughout Colorado. I doubt that there is a river or stream in Colorado that doesn’t have a spot where someone owns both sides of some part of it.

The commercial river industry adds $124 million to Colorado’s economy. How much more does the recreational river public add to this total through the purchase of river equipment, gas, food and lodging to our economy?

The owners of the Wapiti Ranch claim that this is a taking of a private property right. I strongly disagree. It is an attempt by a private property owner to take a public right — a long-established and increasingly popular right to enjoy one of Colorado’s and the West’s most spectacular recreational opportunities. I urge all those who know what I’m talking about and those who would some day like to know to support this bill.

DAVID P. CHRISTENSEN

Grand Junction

Freedom-to-float bill takes property rights

I read with interest the column by Bill Grant on the freedom-to-float bill. The stance by Mr. Grant did not surprise me, given his consistent anti-private property rights stance, as well as his anti-energy and anti-business positions.

I am not a land baron, but I am like hundreds of other property owners along rivers. We don’t just claim ownership to the banks and bottom of the river, but we actually do own and pay taxes on these river properties.

While I personally have no objection to watercraft floating through my property, I do object when floaters stop and do the following activities: steal my boats, camp out, fish, hunt, sunbathe, barbecue — all without permission.

We have spent thousands of dollars improving wildlife and fish habitat and it is simply wrong for floaters to take advantage of this without putting forth one dime. Private floaters, as well as commercial fishing operations, charge a substantial fee to their customers. They park their boats, get out and wade through private property. So who is being greedy here?

Preserving private riparian property and habitat should be a judicial, not a legislative matter. What Mr. Grant seems to support is a taking of those property rights.

MICHAEL SHORT

Cedaredge

How can property owners claim land under rivers?

I don’t understand how property owners can claim ownership of a waterway any more than they can claim ownership of the land beneath a public road or highway that abuts or divides their property.

In fact, those waterways should have public rights of way just as roads and highways do, if not alongside the waterway, at least at bridge crossings.

Why should a road right-of-way, which is a “given” in all other circumstances, end where it crosses a waterway? People using the waterway, which they should have every right to do, could depend on definite put-in and take-out points at bridges.

SUE HUGHEY

Grand Junction

Medical story is really about triumph of spirit

I am writing regarding the Feb. 8 story in The Daily Sentinel about Addison Scott, the local girl born with hypoplastic left heart syndrome. The article was a little misleading.

Readers were given the impression that Addison’s heart surgeries were either unsuccessful or had been unexpected. In fact the headline stated explicitly that she would need a heart transplant by age 5. This is not true.

In fact, Addison is right on schedule for the most widely utilized treatment for her condition. This involves a series of planned surgeries, known collectively as the Norwood procedure.

The first two surgeries are done in infancy and the third surgery is typically done between 2 and 4 years old. This sequencing allows a heart with only one ventricle to work as close to normal as possible. Addison has completed the first two (and most difficult) surgeries and is currently awaiting the planned third surgery, probably next year.

The real story here is the story of a young girl who is overcoming a life-threatening condition with dignity. Her parents, sister and brother have given freely of themselves to see Addison through her first year. In spite of the challenges, they have maintained the spirit of family, doing what was necessary. In fact, after all they have been through, Addison’s mother Angela is now reaching out to the community, not asking for pity, but seeking others with common experiences in order to be mutually supportive.

This is a family of heroes and I salute all of them. Most of all I marvel at Addison, whose smile lights up a room. This is not a story of the failing of a heart, it is a story of the triumph of a spirit.

JAMES K. SCHROEDER, MD

Grand Junction



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