Colorado Supreme Court Denies Access to Riverbeds

A ruling from the Colorado Supreme Court deals a blow to fishermen and others who want public access to the state’s rivers, reports Ben Goldfarb in High Country News.

According to Goldfarb, Colorado is “long the West’s most restrictive state when it comes to aquatic access,” and the recent ruling keeps it that way. The ruling revolved around a case in which a resident claimed the public should have access to the Arkansas River bed, which was historically used as a navigable waterway—thus making it state-owned land, according to the plaintiff in the case against the state, Roger Hill. The high court disagreed, saying the plaintiff had no standing to bring the case because the river was never officially designated as public property.

In Hill’s view, such restrictions place unnecessary strain on other waterways in the state. “There are a whole lot of recreational assets going to waste because we can’t use them. What that means to us is very crowded rivers: Every time you fish a good spot on the Arkansas, there are too many people. We have a shortage of recreational opportunities — and a growing demand for them.”

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