Colorado appeals court wades into river access debate

Angler Roger Hill is suing a landowner over a right to wade in the Arkansas River, arguing that historic commerce on the river proves navigability, which requires public access.

Jason Blevins
The Colorado Sun

For nearly 40 years, riverside property owners and recreational river users in Colorado have relied on a tenuous agreement when it comes to floating rivers and streams through private property.

The deal is this: Stay on your boat and don’t touch the riverbed or you could face trespassing charges. If you wade on those rocks while fishing, a landowner might hurl rocks at you.

That agreement-but-not-a-rule could change with a recent decision by the Colorado Court of Appeals that breathes new life into a decades-old debate over public access in public water crossing private land.

“I think the decision from the appeals court is what the future is,” says Roger Hill, an 80-year-old Colorado Springs angler who sued a landowner in 2018 after the property owner threw rocks at him while he waded along the Arkansas River riverbed and fished. “We will open up navigable rivers for use by the public … just like every other state. I expect this will be a few years before it’s over, but my hope is that Colorado joins the enlightened outdoor sportsmen community found in other states that enjoys the use of navigable rivers.”

Read the full story via The Colorado Sun.

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