May 24, 2012--Forest Service responds to ski industry water-rights lawsuit (Summit Voice)

The U.S. Forest Service has responded to the ski industry’s lawsuit over water rights, claiming it has every legal right to attach certain requirements to ski area permits ensuring that the water originating in streams on public lands remain dedicated to continued ski area obligations. In the response, the Forest Service said:

“The 2012 ski area water rights clause speaks for itself and is the best evidence of its contents. Defendants deny any allegations contrary to the plain language and meaning of the 2012 ski area water rights clause. Defendants deny any violation of the Constitution, federal law or regulation.”

The latest skirmish in the long-running water war started late last year when the agency inserted a new water rights clause into standard ski area permits. The clause replaced language developed in 2004 that gave ski areas more absolute control over the water. According to the Forest Service, the 2004 language could have enabled resorts to sell off some of their water rights. The ski industry sees it differently. Testifying on behalf of the National Ski Areas Association, Boulder attorney Glenn Porzak last November told a congressional committee that the new clause is a takings, essentially forcing ski resorts to relinquish control of water rights worth tens of millions of dollars

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