Friday, February 22, 2013

Ravalli County will fight USFS over water rights

Ravalli County commissioners will file an objection to the U.S. Forest Service seeking water rights on Blodgett Creek. The application, which has already received preliminary approval from the state, is once more putting pressure on the issue of resource management in the Bitterroot. The Bitterroot National Forest already has water rights on some Bitterroot streams, but it'ss the move to secure a junior water right on Blodgett Creek that's erupted into the latest management conflict. USFS officials say the water right, allowed under a 2007 compact with the state, protects fish habitat and would be a "non-consumptive use" without interfering with older water rights for farms and ranches. County commissioners are not only suspicious of the reasons for the application, but critical of the methodology used to calculate the water right, the so-called "wet perimeter" formula measuring water in the streambed and the adjacent banks. Those measurements are based on one year, and commissioners say they are baffled why the state wouldn't use historic measurements. "You're saying that 22 years of recorded history can be surpassed by measuring one time, one year, and making a claim of how much water has flowed on average for the last 40 years?" Commissioner J.R. Iman asked...more

Here's the KPAX video report:

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