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Resolution says state, not feds, control water

Published March 5, 2013 7:57 pm

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

In another legislative gesture of state supremacy, a House panel on Tuesday advanced bills that would declare water rights are under state control and ensure grazing permit holders access to federal land necessary to make improvement required for "beneficial use" of their water right.

This legislation is necessary to confront an abuse of state sovereignty at the hands of the U.S. Forest Service, which is pressuring grazing permittees to sign over their water rights by threatening to revoke their access to the land, according to HJR14.

The resolution's companion HB166, which protects grazers' access to public lands, also directs the state Department of Natural Resources to study the state's jurisdiction over water rights and the state engineer to forward water claims filed by the federal government.

The resolution alleges federal land managers have messed up forest hydrology by restricting grazing and logging, which has resulted in dangerous fuel loads and "inordinate water absorption for unhealthy vegetation densities." But worse the agency appears intent on acquiring water rights throughout the West and has filed more than 16,000 claims on Utah livestock watering rights.