Denver: USFS to hold a series of public meetings after NSAA lawsuit victory last December

From the Summit County Citizens Voice (Bob Berwyn):

Now, the agency will hold a series of public meetings, starting April 16 in Denver, to take input from the public and key stakeholders. Additional meetings are set for Salt Lake City on April 17, and Lake Tahoe, Calif., on April 18.

Forest Service leaders and technical experts from Washington, D.C., as well as from local and regional offices will be on-hand to take public comments and provide additional information on the water rights issue.

At issue is very specific language in ski area and other special-use permits that establishes the ownership and future uses of water that flows off public lands. The key for the Forest Service is to ensure that the water rights from water that comes from national forest system lands continue to stay with the permitted special use.

The ski industry and the agency have been at odds over the water rights directive for several years but say they are committed to a collaborative approach based on a long history of partnership. “Some resorts have water rights in their name, some are held in the name of the U.S. Going forward, we need a more cogent way of addressing this,” Rocky Mountain Regional Forester Daniel Jiron said in a January interview with Summit Voice.

“Our long-term policy objective is to make sure that ski areas and communities can depend on that water … The Forest Service must provide the resources to do that,” Jiron said. “We support the ski industry … I believe it’s an important part of our mission. We know that the current group of ski resort owners and operators are committed to their resorts and Colorado, but we have to plan ahead decades to protect public resources,” Jiron said.

More NSAA coverage here.

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