River rats oppose Senate Bill 62 | SummitDaily.com

River rats oppose Senate Bill 62

KIM MARQUISsummit daily news

DENVER – Recreationists, government officials, conservationists and river enthusiasts who oppose Senate Bill 62 converged on the state Capitol Monday to urge lawmakers to defeat a bill that would limit recreational water rights.The bill would undermine recreational water use and impact local economies, the bill’s opposition said.”River based recreation contributes significantly to our state’s economy,” said Chaffee County Commissioner Jerry Mallett. He added that the bill places “unrealistic” restrictions on the ability to keep water in rivers and will drive away recreationists.Senate Bill 62 stands to limit the amount of water communities can use for kayak courses and other river activities to 350 cubic feet per second (cfs). It would also require that at least 10 kayaks be in the water at any given time. Eagle County, Trout Unlimited, Colorado White Water Association, Colorado Environmental Coalition and the Yampa River Outfitters joined Chaffee County in opposing the bill.”Whitewater enthusiasts spend their afternoons, evenings and weekends not only in the whitewater parks, but in the local businesses of the communities hosting these parks,” said Mark Robbins of the Colorado White Water Association. “Unfortunately, SB 62’s one-size-fits-all requirement of 350 cfs will make boating the equivalent of trying to swim laps in your bathtub and keep boaters away.”Sen. Jack Taylor, R-Steamboat Springs, sponsored the bill as an attempt to define parameters for recreational diversions. “If we don’t act, those diversions could threaten not only the rural needs for water but also the needs of the cities that are trying to support recreational water uses,” Taylor said March 2. He added that the bill would prevent “gridlock” on waterways and support a system of water laws “that have served Colorado for a very long time.”The bill passed through the senate March 14 and was being considered Monday by the Agricultural, Livestock and Natural Resources Committee in the house of representatives. The bill will next advance to the general house assembly.Kim Marquis can be contacted at (970) 668-3998, ext. 249, or at kmarquis@summitdaily.com.

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