April Update 2016
August/September Update 2015
Colorado Aeronautical Board
The Colorado Aeronautical Board (CAB) is supportive of seaplanes in Colorado. We were asked by Ms. Ann Beardall, Vice Chairperson of the CAB and President of the Colorado Pilots Association, to make a presentation to the CAB concerning seaplanes and Colorado. Mr. David Ulane, Director of the Colorado Aeronautics Division (AD), was excited to have this topic on the agenda. Mr. Ulane, gave a history of the statewide ban of seaplanes on Colorado waters. Mr. Leo Milan, Colorado Assistant District Attorney (ADA) assigned to Department of Transportation matters, said there is very little statutory authority or language related to seaplanes other than a reference concerning vessels. ADA Milan believes the CAB can take a stand on this issue, based on the CAB Governing Documents.
The SPA presentation provided facts and supportive material to each of the CAB members and AD staff. After a brief discussion by the CAB, Mr. Ulane was directed to begin discussions with Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) concerning their stance on seaplanes. These discussions are ongoing. Mr. Ulane contacted CPW and their first meeting was set for August 24th. At the meeting, Mr. Ulane shared an email from Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) regarding contact they have had with Governor Hickenlooper about this subject.
Board member, Joe Rice, suggested compiling information that shows the pros and cons to allowing seaplanes on Colorado waterways. There was a brief discussion on possible legislation and where that would reside, whether it be from CDOT, the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) or from aviation advocacy groups, such as AOPA or the Seaplane Pilots Association. Board member, Robert Olislagers, mentioned that any legislation would have an associated fiscal component.
Department of Natural Resources
I requested data from the Colorado DNR for the period 2004 – 2014, related to state park boating density numbers on the lakes that allow power boating. The DNR estimated the cost at approximately $1,000 to provide that data. A request to the CAB to help mitigate this cost was denied because, “Current budget constraints could not support the expenditure.”
Colorado Airshows and Seaplanes
I met with Marshall Brown, City of Aurora Water Department. Mr. Brown, was very supportive and has agreed to allow up to five seaplanes land on the Aurora Reservoir for the October 2016 Rocky Mountain Airshow. The Aurora reservoir is the last holding area for a large portion of Aurora’s drinking water. Their processing plant at the base of the dam is not designed to extract/process hydrocarbons making the reservoir sensitive to fuel contamination. However, Mr. Brown said, Aurora is in the planning process to add another reservoir just east of the Aurora Reservoir that would not be as sensitive and he, has promised to consider opening that reservoir to seaplanes. The new reservoir is current referred to as East Reservoir and should be open in about 15 years.
The Dillon Reservoir in the mountains west of Denver is the site of the “Highest Show On Earth”, sponsored by the town of Dillon, Hudson Auto Source and the Dillon Business Association. Their event this year featured air and water (boating) elements, as well as a concert. I spoke with the organizational group concerning the addition of seaplanes to the event for 2016. They we receptive and were happy to consider the prospect. Discussions are currently underway for up to 5 seaplanes.
AOPA Fly-In Colorado Springs
It was a wonderful event loaded with airplanes and the most beautiful of Colorado weather. The Seaplane Pilots Association booth was manned by SPA volunteers, SPA Executive Director, Steve McCaughey, and me. We met and talked with hundreds of supporters, signed up a life-time member and several other regular members. “Signature Boards” were filled with signatures of supporters, including
such notables as AOPA President Mark Barker, and aerobatic legend Debby Rihn-Harvey. Each of the 50+ vendors displayed a “WE SUPPORT SEAPLANES IN COLORADO” sign.
The Town Hall Meeting was attended by just short of 1000. Each heard Mark Baker say, “Colorado is the only State that does not allow seaplanes in their waterways.” They all left knowing that Colorado has unfair and discriminatory policies against seaplanes. The attendees also know that AOPA and the SPA are going to work hard to force a change.
My personal thank you to SPA members; Darrel Dilley (SPA#43900), William Murrish (SPA#29037), Charles Todd (SPA#35267), and James Torley (SPA#1503), for providing exceptional service in support of the SPA booth. Each performed above and beyond. Their professional attitudes and outstanding performance is a credit to them, the Seaplane Pilots Association, and the General Aviation Community.
Colorado Based Seaplane Charitable Organization
On August 14, Samaritan Aviation, a Colorado based charitable organization, put their newest aircraft on public display at Centennial Airport (APA). The aircraft, a Cessna 206 on floats, is registered as N5233Z. Mr. Mark Palm, President Samaritan Aviation said the aircraft is touring the US from Oshkosh to San Diego seeking donations to help support the approximate $1 million annual operating expenses. About 1/2 of the annual costs are covered by the Papua New Guinea Government and the other $500,000 are through donations.
Mr. Palm met with Seaplane Pilots Association, Water Flying Editor, Mark Twombly, during EAA Airventure. Look for a "Water Flying" article in the near future.
On Sunday, August 16th the aircraft will be at the Montrose Regional Airport (MTJ) and will eventually be flown to San Diego for crating and shipment to Papua New Guinea.
July Update 2015
Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW)
There has finally been some willingness to consider seaplanes by the CPW. Over the past few days direct talks with the Director of Natural Resources (Mr. Mike King) has offered seaplanes the opportunity to get wet. In conjunction with the AOPA Fly-In at Colorado Springs on September 26th, the CPW is considering allowing those aircraft that successfully complete an invasive species inspection the opportunity to fly to the Pueblo Reservoir and maintain/regain landing currency. There are still some hoops to jump through and this is not a done deal; but, fly yor seaplane to the AOPA Fly-In and we will do our part to make it worth your while.
Colorado Aeronautics Division
On July 8th, I present the Colorado seaplane story to the Colorado Aeronautical Board, the governing body of the Colorado Aeronautics Division. The presentation was well received and the Board tasked Director Ulane with contacting the Colorado State Parks and determining a path forward.
Seaplanes and the City of Aurora
On July 30th, I met with Mr. Marshall Brown, Director Aurora Water. The Aurora Reservoir was purpose built to be the last retention area prior to entering the city’s main water system. The filtration and processing facility just north of the dam does not have the capability to remove hydrocarbons. To add that capability would cost the City millions. As little as one gallon of fuel spilled into the water supply would cause the plant to shut down, affecting tens of thousands of Aurora residents. For obvious reasons the City does not want to risk that scenario.
However, recognizing the fact that seaplanes do not discharge their exhaust into the water and that if properly maintained the aircraft would not leak or vent fuel overboard, the City Water Director will allow us to bring 5 seaplanes to the next Aurora Reservoir airshow scheduled for October 1 – 2, 2016. Beginning in June I will begin taking reservations for these slots.
The City of Aurora is in the planning stages to build a new reservoir. This reservoir, called East Reservoir, will be built just east of and next to the Aurora Reservoir. The East Reservoir will be basically the same size as the Aurora Reservoir, but, with one major difference. The East Reservoir will not have the same restrictions as the Aurora Reservoir. Their projected recreational use plan will include powerboating AND SEAPLANES. The completion date of the East Reservoir is 10 – 15 years down the road; but, seaplanes are no longer being arbitrarily ignored.
As many of you know, the State of Texas has a law that says, simply stated, if a lake allows powerboating then they cannot without due process exclude seaplanes. This is a law that Colorado needs. I have forwarded a copy of the Texas Law to several State Senators and Representatives and have received supportive and receptive comments. The Colorado Legislature will begin gearing up for their next session soon and we will be there with them to push for open and equal access for all.
June 2015 Update
Colorado Parks and Wildlife Commission (CPW) Meeting
Steve McCaughey, Executive Director of the Seaplane Pilots Association, arrived in Colorado on June 10th to attend the CPW meeting. We drove to Gunnison from Denver International Airport through majestic scenery.
As you may already know, we did not get the result hoped for. The commission accepted the CPW staff recommendation to retain their current policy of discrimination toward seaplanes. Even though we had passionate testimony by both Steve McCaughey and Ann Beardall, President of the Colorado Pilots Association, the Commission would not budge. They declined to even discuss further options.
Your emails were effective! While we did not prevail at this level, the volume of emails sent drew a lot of attention. Despite the fact that we had an incorrect address to which to send your messages, they all got through. Many of you may have received a reply that indicated your message was deleted without being viewed. I can assure you that they were not deleted. Those that were received by noon on June 10th, are included in the June report to the Commission. Those that were received after noon on June 10th and all those that received the “deleted” reply will be included in the July Commission report.
As disappointing as the result was, it does not end the fight; but, shifts our focus to other fronts. I am as disappointed as you are. Following the saying, “That which does not kill us makes us stronger”, I am reviewing my performance to find those points needing improvement. I vow to continue to push for FAIR and EQUAL access to the waterways of Colorado.
The “silver-lining” is that despite terrible weather, several supporters were present. This was the largest gathering to show support for seaplanes in Colorado ever! We need to continue to show this kind of support and make each meeting the biggest and most vocal yet. Also, the CPW staff recognized that ANS inspections by CPW personnel were not feasible and showed a slight willingness to open ANS training to more private inspectors.
New Colorado Aeronautics Division Director
David Ulane, former Northwest Mountain Regional Manager for the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA), is the new Colorado Aeronautics Division Director. He began duties on July 1, 2015. David is a Metropolitan State University of Denver Aviation and Aerospace Science Program graduate and a licensed general aviation pilot, bringing with him over 25 years of professional aviation knowledge and experience as well as a love for general aviation that has been sorely lacking in CoDOT.
We will waste no time in putting him to the task of securing seaplane access in Colorado. On July 8th, the Colorado Aeronautical Board, the policymakers for the Division, will meet to welcome David. We have a spot on the agenda to present our requests. More on this in next month’s update.
Seaplane Lands In Aurora Reservoir
On May 30th, a seaplane N914CW, piloted by Marc Lenart of Boulder, CO landed in the Aurora Reservoir. The landing was a planned event during the Rocky Mountain Airshow on Memorial Day weekend. We had been trying to gain access the reservoir in July 2014 and were informed by the Aurora City Water that “Seaplanes will never be allowed to land on the Aurora Reservoir”. Imagine our surprise when, less than a year later it happens. We are now using that event to gain broader access for other water flyers. Never, say Never.
May 2015 Update
State and Local Advocacy for Seaplanes Handbook
The advocacy handbook is progressing. Assistance was received from the Recreational Aviation Foundation (RAF). They have provided a copy of their Advocacy Manual. The RAF Advocacy Manual comes in two parts; Advocates Guide to Airstrip Issues and Oppurtunities on Public and Private Lands, A Reference Guide for Public Land Managers. The RAF has put a lot of time and energy into these documents. They will serve as a solid basis upon which we will develop the SLASH.
Multi-pronged Strategy in Colorado
Advocating in Colorado is not easy. The reason seaplane have been unfairly treated is that there are multiple agencies that dictate policy and then promulgate those policies both vertically and laterally. In Colorado, the key agencies are Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW), the US Bureau of Reclamation (USBR), and the US National Parks (NPS). All navigable Colorado waterways are controlled or influenced by these governmental bodies. To project the strongest possible challenge to unreasonable restrictions and prohibitions, we have identified, documented, addressed and monitored seaplane access issues using the newly created SLASH.
Colorado Parks and Wildlife Commission Meeting
We are preparing for the CPW Commission Meeting June 11-12, 2015. As previously reported, the CPW will be receiving recommendations from their staff regarding seaplane operations at the State Parks. Their current regulations prohibit aircraft operating on land or water under their jurisdiction. It is expected that the recommendations will support no change in their current policy. Over the past month we have had several strategy meetings to build support and construct effective arguments to further our position. If you are able, plan to attend the meeting at Fred R. Field Western Heritage Center, 275 South Spruce Street, Gunnison, Colorado 81230.
Steve McCaughey will be arriving in Colorado on June 10th to attend the CPW meeting. We will be driving to Gunnison from Denver International Airport the afternoon of June 10th. Make your opinion know; write, call, or attend.
US Bureau of Reclamation
We received an answer from the Upper Colorado Region (UCR) of the Bureau of Reclamation(BR). We requested the metrics used to justify their establishment of a total prohibition of seaplanes on their projects. They responded by restating their original reasons of safety, security, and invasive species. They were unable to quantify these issues; but provided copies of letters from the Delores Water Conservancy and the Colorado Parks and Wildlife which they claim support the UCR prohibition. They are unwilling to change their stance... and so are we.
Walking these issues up the chain, we have submitted an appeal to Commissioner Lopez of the Bureau of Reclamation in Washington DC. Given that all the other BR regions allow seaplane operations, we expect the Commissioner to review the specifics of the UCR policy. The outcome of this appeal is uncertain, so we are preparing for the next step up the ladder to the US Department of Interior.
Texas Water Rights Bill
The state of Texas has recently adopted a bill that declares all state controlled waterways are open to aquatic aircraft (seaplanes, float planes, etc...). The Texas bill states in part "... a governmental entity that owns, controls, or has jurisdiction over a navigable body of water may not in an area in which motorized boats are permitted:
1.) prohibit the takeoff, landing, or operation of an aquatic aircraft; or
2.) regulate or require a permit or fee for the operation of an aquatic aircraft."
This bill removes the erroneous distinction between motorized watercraft and seaplanes. We intend to use the Texas bill to introduce similar legislation in Colorado, The bill has been sent to several state legislators for review and to the Colorado Division of Aeronautics, which in turn has sent it to the Colorado Department of Transportation.
Birds of a Feather
As the intensity of our advocacy efforts heat up, we have been tightening our bonds with fellow aviation organizations; both national and state. David Ulane, AOPA Northwest Regional Manager, Ann Beardall, President, Colorado Pilots Association, and Patrick Romano, Recreational Aviation Foundation, State Liaison, have devoted their considerable talents to open Colorado. The efforts of these individuals and their organizations show the very best of the aviation fraternity. They will not rest until we achieve a successful outcome for all Colorado aviators.
March 2015 Update
Colorado is emerging from this winter with about 70 to 75% of our normal yearly precipitation. This means that all reservoirs/lakes may be lower than usual and may remain low throughout the summer.
Kenney Reservoir in Rangley, CO
Kenney Reservoir is the only waterway in Colorado open to seaplanes. Even though northwest Colorado has experienced a significant drought, less than 1” of precipitation this winter, the Kenney Reservoir reports it will remain at or near its normal level year-around. If you should visit Kenney, thank the people of the Rangley Water Conservancy (970-675-5055) for being seaplane friendly.
Colorado Pilots Association (CPA)
The CPA will hold a “Meet and Greet” on April 11, 2015 at the BJC airport. We will be there with a SPA booth. The CPA meeting goals are to 1) Work on a comprehensive calendar of aviation events statewide to be shared with the aviation public. 2) Join a discussion on raising the awareness of safety as it relates to aircraft and UAS/UAVs. And 3) Provide a forum for sharing thoughts on the best ways to promote and preserve the future of general aviation in the state of Colorado. We share a lot of interests and have become a Corporate Member of CPA. Stop by the meeting if in town. Contact Ann Beardall, CPA President 303-947-0670 for further information.
We are presenting a case to the management of Rueter-Hess Reservoir to mirror the development at Tavares, FL. We have contacted Lauren Farrell, Grants Administrator, City of Tavares, and requested her help. She has added us to contact list for updates about their seaplane base and will provide us with a copy of their master plan when it is completed in about 6 months.
The Rueter-Hess Reservoir is located 6 miles south-south east of the Centennial Airport (APA). The structure was completed a couple years ago and the reservoir is slowly filling. The management company for the reservoir is actively looking for recreational opportunities to be incorporated at their site. It is our intent to place seaplanes first at the table. Call or write to Susan Saint Vincent, Director of Business Solutions for Rueter-Hess Reservoir (303-841-4627 or firstname.lastname@example.org) to let her know that we have support for seaplane access.
Colorado State Parks
We received news that the Colorado State Parks and Wildlife (CPW) committee is preparing to present recommendations to the State Commission on June 11, 2015 in Gunnison, CO. We anticipate that the recommendations will be highly restrictive. The CPW has promised to provide us with an advanced copy of the recommendations very soon. We have a time-slot at the commission meeting to address the recommendations and provide options. Should you be in the Gunnison area you are welcome to join us at the Commission meeting. Write to the Commission at email@example.com to express your desire to see seaplanes in Colorado.
US Bureau of Reclamation/Army Corp of Engineers
Last month we began a campaign to open Federal waters in Colorado. We contacted both the US Bureau of Reclamation (USBR) and the Army Corp of Engineers (USACE) and requested information under the Freedom of Information Act regarding seaplane access at Colorado projects. The USACE is divided into several regions with the Omaha and the Upper Colorado regions covering Colorado. The Omaha region has a good seaplane policy; however, it excluded all projects within Colorado. The Upper Colorado Region covers the western half of Colorado and has a total prohibition on seaplane access. We have sent an appeal to the USBR Commissioner in Washington DC to reopen consideration. Along with our appeal we have asked that the USBR provide us with the metrics used and the rationale behind the Upper Colorado Regions prohibition and the USACE exclusion of Colorado projects.