Fremont County fisher’s lawsuit moved to state court — The Pueblo Chieftain

Photo credit: The Perfect Fly Store

From The Pueblo Chieftain (Robert Boczkiewicz):

A dispute over whether a fisherman has the right to put his line into the Arkansas River near Cotopaxi has been moved from federal court to state court in Canon City.

Fly fisherman Robert Hill contends the bed of the river is — or should be — public land, entitling him to fish there.

Owners of residential property adjacent to his favorite fishing spot contend their deed gives them ownership of the riverbed at that location. They say Hill is trespassing when he fishes there.

The owners, Mark Everett Warsewa and Linda Joseph, “appear hell-bent on stopping him,” U.S. District Court Magistrate Judge Kathleen M. Tafoya, wrote in a 12-page ruling.

In the ruling issued last week, she said the dispute belongs in Fremont County District Court, not in federal court. In 2018, Hill filed his lawsuit in the federal court in Denver.

Hill, 77, of Colorado Springs, stated in his lawsuit that Warsewa and Joseph used force starting in 2012 to chase him and his fishing buddies away. The site is near where Texas Creek flows into the river…

Hill wants a judge to issue a judgment declaring that the riverbed is owned by the state, and to order Joseph and Warsewa not to bar him from using it.

“The state of Colorado, however, does not want ownership” of sections of privately owned riverbeds, Tafoya wrote.

The state contends private property rights of the riverbed were established around 1876, when Colorado became a state, the judge states.

“Public access to Colorado’s rivers has been the subject matter of litigation for many years,” she wrote. “State courts are well-equipped to handle this type of controversy.”

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