US Senator Barasso is taking up Scott Tipton’s bill designed to rope in the Forest Service (NSAA vs. USFS)

Copper Mountain snowmaking via
Copper Mountain snowmaking via

From The Pueblo Chieftain (Peter Roper):

Rep. Scott Tipton’s legislation to restrict the federal government’s ability to acquire private water rights when leasing federal land has gained a Senate sponsor. Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyoming, is taking up the measure in the Senate, Tipton’s office said Friday.

Tipton, the Republican who represents Pueblo and the 3rd Congressional District, said the Interior Department and other agencies have been requiring people to transfer private water rights to the government as part of federal land-use permits.

“Federal attempts to undermine the long-held state water law that protects the many uses vital to Western states are creating uncertainty and jeopardizing the livelihoods of communities, individuals and businesses responsible for thousands of jobs,” he said.

Barrasso’s statement said, “The (Obama) administration is holding public land-use permits hostage in an attempt to acquire private water rights. Once again, Washington is attempting to take over Western water rights through a federal water power grab.”

The legislation prevents the federal government from requiring the transfer of private water rights as part of a land-use permit; blocks the Interior Department from imposing other conditions on a permit that would require the transfer of water rights; and says the federal government will defer to state water law.

Here’s a link to my column about the National Ski Areas Association lawsuit against the United States Forest Service from a couple of years ago. Click through if you want some background. For more coverage of the bill, H.R. 3189: Water Rights Protection Act, click here.