HR 1389

Although the U.S. Forest Service has backed off its original position against Colorado ski industry’s water rights for now, a congressional bill designed to protect water owned by ski areas could potentially end up hurting rivers across the country. According to American Rivers, a national river-protection organization, “While House Resolution 1389’s stated intent may be legitimate, the bill is written very broadly and will have serious implications for water management across the country.” Additional opposition includes American Whitewater, Defenders of Wildlife, Earthjustice, Natural Resources Defense Council, and the Sierra Club, plus a list of other river protection and watershed organizations. Those in favor of HR 3189—also called the Water Rights Protection Act (WRPA), include Rep. Scott Tipton (R-Cortez), California Ski Industry Association, Colorado Ski Country USA, and the National Ski Areas Association, as well special-interest groups representing agriculture, ranching, and water—including the SWCD. According to a recent statement by Tipton, the WRPA is a “commonsense bill that would protect communities, businesses, recreation opportunities, farmers and ranchers as well as other individuals who rely on privately held water rights for their livelihood from federal takings. It would do so by prohibiting federal agencies from confiscating water rights through the use of permits, leases, and other land management arrangements.”