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Systematic Efforts by the U.S. Forest Service to Take Control of Private Water Rights, by W.W.

Recently, this blog made mention of efforts to institute the "public trust doctrine" in California. In Colorado, we have been fighting ballot initiatives concerning the public trust doctrine for years. While the public trust doctrine issue is increasingly concerning, I am writing today about what I feel is a potentially even greater threat to private water rights.

In the last few years the U.S. Forest Service has been quietly revising its internal rules concerning the management of the National Forests ("N.F."), to include severe restrictions on the diversion and use of surface and groundwater. It is worth noting at the outset that Congress specifically granted the citizens of the U.S. the right to obtain private water rights under state law on federal land. See the Mining Acts of 1866 (30 U.S.C. ? 51); the Mining Acts of 1870 (30 U.S.C. ? 52), the Desert Land Act of 1877 (43 U.S.C. ? 321); and California Oregon Power Co. v. Beaver Portland Cement Co., 295 U.S. 142, 158 & 162 (1935).

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