Trespass Policy

The GVIC system of canals exists for the sole purpose of conveying and delivering irrigation water to the Grand Valley. The appurtenant structures and easements—roads, ditches, bridges, flumes, walkways, etc.—are parts of a privately owned facility and constitute real property.

All canals have a channel for water, and lands on either side for maintenance. The canals are not open for anyone except authorized GVIC personnel. Please observe the “no trespassing” signs – they are for your safety!

The bylaws of the Company clearly prohibit a broad spectrum of uses of this private property including, but not limited to

  • any type of recreational activity
  • ingress/egress to other properties
  • transportation between points
  • parking
  • dumping refuse
  • building fences or other structures
  • obstruction of the right-of-way with gates or fencing
  • swimming
  • herding, watering, or feeding livestock

(Article X)

GVIC considers all such activities to be trespass against its private property rights. Shareholders are obligated through share ownership to comply with these bylaws (Article II-10).

GVIC maintains a no trespass policy for several reasons. The canals are inherently unsafe for the public. Drownings occur in the canals of the Grand Valley nearly every year. The policy also protects the employees of the Company, so that they can conduct routine operations and maintenance without risk to members of the public. The sole purpose of these systems is to convey water, and a no trespass policy enables the Company to meet its obligations to deliver water.

Furthermore, the vast majority of the land underlying the GVIC canal system is owned by private landowners. A no trespass policy serves to protect these private property rights, as well as the private property rights of GVIC.

Public trails do not exist on the GVIC canal system. Recreational use of GVIC’s facility can result in prosecution for trespass.

orange notice of trespass card explaining notification of unauthorized entry onto private property


GVIC’s system of canals is protected along its entire length by easements, whether recorded or by prescriptive right. In general, GVIC claims 25 feet from the edge of water or to the toe of slope on any outer embankment, whichever distance is greater. However, this is a general claim. Recorded documents and other prescriptive rights exist for large portions of the canal that may vary from this general claim.

GVIC strongly encourages landowners along the canal to contact GVIC’s office prior to building a fence or structure near the canal. We can share documentation for existing easements. We will also often assist in determining the location of the easement line by coming out to your property. This will prevent the burdensome task of having to remove the fence/structure and rebuild it outside of the easement after-the-fact.

Colorado Supreme Court case law prohibits the unilateral alteration of irrigation easements apart from the consent of the easement owner.

This means that with irrigation easements it’s always better to ask permission rather than forgiveness.

grand valley irrigation water canal

Land Development and Plats Along Canals

As the Grand Valley steadily grows in population, some land development takes place along the valley’s canals. GVIC has long-standing views concerning dedications and uses of tracts of land which underlie the canal facility. We firmly oppose the dedication of tracts of land for public use such as trails. Even if some plats may show dedications for public use on canal facilities, the public should be aware that no active public trails exist on the ground within the GVIC facility. 

In some areas, gaps in property ownership exist underneath the GVIC canal facility. GVIC strongly opposes the closure of these “gaps” through the platting process, and the Company regards documents resulting from this activity as spurious. Our view is that in prior days, when landowners sold their property, they in many cases intentionally did not convey the portions of their property that were burdened by a canal right-of-way, but excluded those portions from the conveyance. They did so in order to assist the Company in protecting the canal facility, a resource that they viewed as being supremely valuable. The intent was to say that this area is set aside for GVIC’s use, and no one else’s.

Therefore, we firmly believe that these gaps should either continue to be preserved or that ownership of the gaps should be granted to GVIC through the quiet title process.

All of the above implies that if an attempt is made to close these gaps through the development process rather than through lawful and ethical processes, we would perforce move to oppose that step and seek remedy through the lawful means that are available to GVIC.

NOTICE TO OWNERS, LAND DEVELOPERS, SUBDIVIDERS, AND SURVEYORS: The execution and recording in the Mesa County Clerk and Recorder’s Records, or the lodging or depositing with the Mesa County Surveyor of any land survey, land survey plat, boundary survey, ALTA survey and/or subdivision plat that includes, describes, monuments, or identifies lots, tracts, or parcels of land outside the boundaries of an owner’s or developer’s property may subject the owner or developer to liability for the recording of a spurious document pursuant to § 38-35-201 et seq, C.R.S. and/or violate Articles 50 and 51, Title 38 of the Colorado Revised Statutes regarding survey plats and monument records. Grand Valley Irrigation Company reserves all rights to enforce and/or report to the applicable governing body or administrative agency any violation of § 38-35-201 et seq, C.R.S. or Articles 50 and 51, Title 38 of the Colorado Revised Statutes. 

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