New USFS ski area permit requirements are designed to keep water rights with the land at ski areas


From the Summit County Citizens Voice (Bob Berwyn):

At issue is a water-rights clause in the standard ski area permit that specifies who owns the water flowing down from public national forest system lands both within and outside ski area boundaries. The current language has been in place since 2004 and the ski industry says it’s been working well. Under the 2004 clause, ski areas exercise almost absolute control over all water rights associated with ski area operations — to the point that a resort could potentially sell at least some of the water rights, potentially leaving a future ski area permittee high and dry…

The agency is seeking to sustain resorts operating under permit for the long-term by ensuring that the water rights stay with the ski area even if there is a change in ownership or some other unforeseen circumstance, according to Jim Bedwell, director of the agency’s recreation and heritage resources programs. Bedwell said the agency recognizes that the value of ski areas is tied at least in part to the associated water rights. “If there’s a change of ownership, the buyers will know they have continued ownership of the water rights, They can’t be parted out,” he said.

More water law coverage here.

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