Colorado lawmakers object to proposed rafting settlement
April 7, 2010
DENVER (AP) – 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 state lawmaker said Wednesday.
“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 to attorneys for both sides.
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.
Marcus Lock, an attorney for Shaw – who bought lots on both sides of the Taylor River to build the resort – said Mark Schumacher, owner of Three Rivers Resort, which offers rafting trips on the river, asked for money and property in exchange for agreeing not to raft the river.
Lock said Schumacher wanted Shaw to give him $750,000 and a lot valued at $2.9 million before he would sign an agreement. Schumacher also wanted both sides to work to kill any legislation regulating the industry, Lock said.
Schumacher said he thought Lock was asking how much it would cost to buy his company, which he valued at about $3 million.
Schumacher made his request at a meeting at Schumacher’s resort on March 29, Lock said.
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.
Lock 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.
The attorney said Schumacher did very little rafting on the river last year and that Shaw was offering to 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.