DENVER — An appeals court Thursday reopened a lawsuit stemming from a dispute over fishing in the Arkansas River near Cotopaxi.
The dispute is between a fly fisherman who likes to fish in a particular spot in the river and the owners of the adjacent land where they live.
It is near where Texas Creek flows into the river.
The fisherman, Roger Hill, 77, contends he has a right to fish at the spot because he thinks the riverbed belongs to the state of Colorado.
The owners of the adjacent property, Mark Everett Warsewa and Linda Joseph, contend they own the riverbed, up to the river's center line, where it adjoins their property.
Hill, of Colorado Springs, alleged they used force on several occasions, starting in 2012, to chase him away from his favorite fishing spot.
The Pueblo Chieftain reported in 2018 that he sued, asking a judge to declare that part of the riverbed belongs to the state and is open to public use, "so he can again safely fish (there)."
Last year, Magistrate Judge Kathleen M. Tafoya of the U.S. District Court for Colorado ruled against Hill, concluding he did not have "standing" to sue. He then took his case to the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals.
On Thursday, the Denver-based appeals court overturned Tafoya's decision, saying she erred that Hill lacked standing of the particular type she cited..
The appeals court, in its 2-1 decision, sent the case back to her to reconsider.
The appeals court said in its 12-page decision that it may turn out that Hill does not have standing to sue, but not on the basis of a particular type of standing that Tafoya used in ruling against him.
Hill was represented by attorneys of an entity known as Lawyers for Colorado Stream Access.
The Upper Arkansas Water Conservancy District, based in Salida, and the Colorado Water Congress, based in Denver, joined the appeal as "friends of the court" in support of the land owners. Their missions include protecting Colorado water resources.
Efforts in the Legislature to approve laws that might resolve disputes regarding access to rivers have been unsuccessful.