DENVER - A dispute over river rafting is finally about to end in the Legislature, but rafting advocates probably won't
like the result.
Back in February, the House had passed House Bill 1188, which created a legal right to float on the state's major
rivers, even if the banks are private property. The Senate converted the bill into a powerless study.
The Senate on Friday finally responded to the House's call for a conference committee to reach a compromise. The group
will meet Monday, but expectations are low.
Two of the three senators on the panel are critics of the bill - Sen. Abel Tapia, D-Pueblo, and Sen. Al White,D-Hayden. What's more, White said, the Senate did not give its three members permission to consider anything but minor
changes to the study.
Rep. Kathleen Curry, U-Gunnison, wrote the bill to solve a dispute on the Taylor River in her district. She said it
will be hard for the Legislature to pass a meaningful bill this year, but she is hoping for the best Monday.
Gov. Bill Ritter started negotiations between the rafting company and a land developer whose dispute generated the
But the fight might end up before voters on the November ballot. Landowners and rafting companies have filed for 24
possible ballot questions, although it's likely that no more than one question from each side would make it to the 2010
Ritter has warned both sides against ballot Armageddon," but Curry thinks the Legislature is in a tough spot.
The rafters want to go to the ballot unless the Legislature passes a bill to affirm their rights, and the landowners
will go to the ballot if the Legislature passes anything other than a study.
White thinks it's possible to avoid an expensive ballot battle through private negotiations.
When this bill goes away, that will put new intent into those negotiations," White said.