About these ads

Forest Service, ski industry tussle over water rights

A long-running battle over control of water rights at federally permitted ski areas is heating up again.

National Ski Areas Association charges Forest Service with ‘takings’

By Bob Berwyn

SUMMIT COUNTY — A decades-old water-rights struggle between the U.S. Forest and the ski industry flared up again this week, as the National Ski Areas Association charged that the agency wants to make an end run around state law and “take away” water rights worth tens of millions of dollars.

The accusations came during a Nov. 15 hearing before the House Natural Resources Committee, as Boulder attorney Glenn Porzak testified on behalf of the ski industry, asking Congress to intervene in the matter. Porzak’s written statement is online here.

“All water rights owners should be concerned,” Porzak said, claiming that the change would require ski areas to transfer ownership of several types of water rights to the Forest Service.

“Ski areas would lose the ability to control future use of those water rights … they would have no guarantee on future use,” Porzak said, explaining that ski areas collectively have invested hundreds of millions of dollars in water rights used for snowmaking, lodging, restrooms, culinary purposes and irrigation.

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. Continue reading

About these ads

Summit Chamber lunch features talk on water

Straight Creek in Dillon, Colorado

Straight Creek is one of many Colorado streams that could be affected by climate change. Colorado Supreme Court Justice Gregory Hobbs will speak on climate and water law at a May 12 Summit Chamber of Commerce lunch.

Colorado Supreme Court Justice Gregory Hobbs to address the role of climate in Colorado water law at May 12 meeting in Breckenridge

SUMMIT COUNTY — Water and climate will be at top of the agenda when the Summit Chamber of Commerce legislative affairs council meets next week in Breckenridge.

The chamber has invited Colorado Supreme Court Justice Gregory Hobbs to speak at the May 12 lunch, which is open to the public. Justice Hobbs will address the role of climate on colorado water law in a talk that could be a good warm-up for the state of the river meeting later that same day.

Justice Hobbs is one of Colorado’s top authorities on Colorado water law and related issues. He was appointed to the Colorado Supreme Court in 1996 by Governor Roy Romer. He has practiced law for 25 years, with an emphasis on water, environment, land use, and transportation issues. He also served as First Assistant Attorney General in the Natural Resources Section for the State of Colorado.  He is Vice-President of the Colorado Foundation for Water Education and Co-Convenor for Dividing the Waters, a Western Water Judges Project.

Hobbs has authored books and articles including In Praise of Fair Colorado, The Practice of Poetry, History and Judging (Bradford Publishing Co. 2004) and Colorado Mother of Rivers, Water Poems (Colorado Foundation for Water Education 2005). He received his A.B. in History, Magna Cum Laude, from the University of Notre Dame, and his J.D. from the University of California at Berkeley.

The May 12 legislative affairs council meeting will take place from 12:30 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. at Spencer’s Restaurant at Beaver Run Resort, 620 Village Rd, Breckenridge. Lunch will be available for individual purchase. Please RSVP to Del at delbush@yahoo.com or (970) 453-4779.

The Summit Chamber’s legislative affairs council provides an avenue for Chamber partners and the public to discuss public policy issues important to our community, and specifically to business owners and managers.

For additional information, please contact Del Bush at (970) 389-4685 or Emily Tracy at (970) 389-4574.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 7,622 other followers