Rep. Daines Will Vote for Bill to Protect Water Rights on Ski Re - KFBB.com News, Sports and Weather

Rep. Daines Will Vote for Bill to Protect Water Rights on Ski Resorts

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Some members of Congress say they feel the federal government is undermining recreation on public lands - something many Montanans enjoy.  For the past three years, the federal government has ordered some ski areas to transfer private water rights used on public lands over to the U.S. Forest Service.  And as FOX Montana's Cody Butler explains, The U.S. House will vote on a bill to stop that overreach tomorrow, in an effort to protect many ski areas in the west.

The U.S. Forest Service is pursuing regulations affecting more than 100 ski areas in 13 states,  including Montana, that operate on public lands.  The U.S. Forest Service allows ski areas to operate on federal land, by issuing special-use permits.  The ski areas get approval from private landowners to use water - to make snow, for instance.     

Back in 2011, the U.S. Forest Service started ordering ski areas in Colorado and Wyoming to handover those private rights to the United States as a condition of the permit.  The Water Rights Protection Act, set to be voted on by members of the U.S. House on Thursday, would end that practice.  The act prohibits the Departments of Agriculture and Interior from transferring water rights to the government, as a condition to issue or renew ski area permits.     

Congressman Steve Daines says in a statement that he plans to vote for this bill to protect Montanans. 

He says, "This bill protects Montanans' ability to use water for agriculture and recreation, and allows the state of Montana, not federal bureaucrats, to continue to oversee water use in our state."    

Many agriculture groups, like the American Farm Bureau and Montana Woolgrowers Association, support the bill. The conservation organization, American Rivers, is against the legislation.     

In Bozeman, Cody Butler, ABC/FOX Montana.

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