The Public Lands Council is backing the Water Rights Protection Act introduced late last week in the U.S House. Council Executive Director Dustin Van Liew says the measure is needed because the U.S. Forest Service is pressuring land owners to give up their water rights in exchange for special use permits.
Van Liew says ranchers own the water rights on the federal land where their grazing. He says the Water Rights Protection Act would prohibit the Secretary of the Interior or Secretary of Agriculture from requiring transfer or water rights without providing just compensation.
Van Liew says there’s no companion measure currently in the Senate although his group is working with lawmakers on that.