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E9A9B61BA6A262DA87258A59005AD49A Hearing Summary


Date Oct 31, 2023      
Location SCR 357

Public Rights on Rivers - Committee Discussion Only

10:32:08 AM  
Mark Squillace, Professor
of Law, University of Colorado Law School, introduced himself and his presentation.
He told the committee about the difference between navigable and non-navigable
streams and legal standards in the state, and he made recommendations for
allowing the public to have greater access to waterways.
10:44:05 AM  
Richard Strauss introduced
himself. He urged the committee to read his ebook with specific focus on
certain terms of interest surrounding navigability law of rivers. He told
the committee that questions remain regarding the public rights on streams
under existing law.
10:49:36 AM  

Lori Potter, Kaplan, Kirsch, and Rockwell, introduced herself and discussed her role in the recent Colorado v. Hill case and in similar cases during her career. She told the committee about a case where one of her clients sued to have safe access across a river. She spoke about her role representing American Whitewater in public use and river access cases. She told the committee about the ongoing challenges that individuals face when hoping to travel down a river that goes through private property.  

10:58:09 AM  
The panelists answered
questions from the committee about restrictions around floating on rivers
through private property, the interpretation of constitutional language
related to the right to float in other states versus Colorado, the final
determination in the Colorado v. Hill case, and private property rights.
11:06:47 AM  
Chane Polo, Colorado Water Congress, introduced herself and her organization. She spoke about her organization's Colorado Water Stewardship Project. She discussed how the public trust doctrine and the prior appropriation doctrine in Colorado are in conflict.
11:11:53 AM  
Steve Leonhardt, Colorado Water Congress, introduced himself and his role in the Colorado v. Hill case. He told the committee about his interpretation of the public trust doctrine and how it's been used and interpreted in other states. He discussed how Colorado has rejected the public trust doctrine in the Colorado v. Hill case and in prior cases in Colorado. He spoke about the difference between the right to float versus the right to appropriate.
11:18:51 AM  
Garin Vorthmann,
Colorado Farm Bureau, introduced herself and her role in these discussions.
She told the committee about her organization's interest, which is focused
on private property rights, specifically agricultural property. She discussed
liability concerns associated with public rights on rivers.
11:23:33 AM  
The panelists responded to questions from the committee regarding what is navigable, how floating on a river may or may not affect appropriation, the ownership of water in a stream, and the intersection of the right to float and private property rights.

The effective date for bills enacted without a safety clause is August 7, 2024, if the General Assembly adjourns sine die on May 8, 2024, unless otherwise specified. Details