In recent years as well as this year,, there have been several examples where the Federal government has attempted to circumvent long established state water law in order to take privately-held water rights. By using the Federal permit, lease and land management process to extort water rights from those who hold rights pursuant to state law, the Federal government is clearly overreaching and violating private property rights.
The Forest Service argues the water rights established on the national forests should be tied to the land and that the United States should own those water rights. The agency contends federal ownership of water will protect it from being removed. That is a mighty big stretch! With federal agency priorities influenced by the flavor of the month politics, environmental group strong arming or the whims of activist courts, the best protection of the water for skiing and dispersed livestock watering is state jurisdiction and rights held in private ownership.
The Public Lands Council (PLC) and the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) strongly support H.R. 3189 and indicated this legislation is necessary as,
“The USFS has been notorious for violating private property rights… and repeatedly ignored established state water laws.”
Representative Rob Bishop (R-UT) joined with Representative Scott Tipton (R-CO) to introduce H.R. 3189, The Water Rights Protection Act. The proposed legislation protects privately held water rights from federal takings while underpinning long standing state sovereignty and water law.
C.E.O. Randy Parker from the Utah Farm Bureau testified to the importance the Water Rights Protection act and stated that “H.R. 3189 precludes the Forest Service and BLM from acquiring livestock water rights as a condition of the rancher’s use of the grazing allotment and protects the holder of the livestock water right –a taking under the Constitution.” The Family Farm Alliance has called on Congress to pass the Water Rights Protection Act and proclaimed that “Federal agencies should not be able to leverage those water rights against farming and ranching families who have long depended upon federal permits and leases to support actions like grazing.”
The County Seat.
Utah Farm Bureau Federation.
Western LIvestock Journal