Colo. lawmakers object to proposed rafting settlement
Associated Press Writer
DENVER – Talks between a Taylor River landowner and a rafting company won’t affect legislation defining the rights of rafting firms to use private Colorado waterways, a lawmaker said Wednesday.
The dispute began when landowners who developed a fishing resort on the banks of the Taylor River near Gunnison tried to bar rafters, claiming their trade interfered with fishing. Lewis Shaw II, president of Jackson-Shaw developers of Dallas, threatened to file a lawsuit.
A proposed settlement between Shaw and Mark Schumacher, owner of Three Rivers Resort, which offers rafting trips, called for Shaw to pay Schumacher $750,000 and give him a lot valued at $2.9 million to compensate Schumacher for lost rafting revenue. It also said any legislation regulating the Taylor would void the agreement.
“Let me be direct and clear. Legislators can and will introduce legislation as they see fit and cannot and will not be part of any outside agreement,” House Majority Leader Paul Weissmann, D-Louisville, said in a letter Wednesday to attorneys for both sides.
The Taylor dispute prompted legislation to formally allow rafters to operate on Colorado rivers. That legislation is stalled in the Senate while Gov. Bill Ritter tries to settle the Taylor issue.
Marcus Lock, an attorney for Shaw, said he drew up the contract at Ritter’s request and that rafting firms turned it down. But Ritter’s chief of staff, Jim Carpenter, said Ritter wasn’t aware of any financial offer.
Lock said Schumacher did very little rafting on the Taylor last year and that Shaw was offering cover the cost of lost business, even though Shaw thinks rafters should pay him for using private property.
Supporters of the legislation say North Dakota and Colorado are the only two states west of the Mississippi River that don’t have strict protection for commercial rafters.