NSAA wins their USFS permit requirements lawsuit — no ruling on water rights transfer requirements

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From The Denver Post (Jason Blevins):

Judge William Martinez ruled that the Forest Service’s revision of 2011 and 2012 permit regulations governing water rights violated federal procedural rules, failed to evaluate economic impact and violated ski area rights.

Martinez sided with the National Ski Areas Association, which was suing the Forest Service over the new water rights permit rules, ordering the agency to not enforce the terms of the new rules. Martinez remanded the issue back to the Forest Service…

The agency said it changed the permit requirements to assure that ski areas never sold water rights connected to federal land.

“It’s a monetary calculation,” Department of Justice attorney Clay Samford argued in the Nov. 15 hearing. “As the value of these rights increases, it may make economic sense for ski areas to sell some rights off.”

The NSAA argued that the agency violated the Federal Administrative Procedural Act by not soliciting public input on the new rule…

Martinez’s decision only addresses the Forest Service’s procedural deficiencies when it crafted the new water directives. He did not rule on the NSAA’s substantive claims, specifically that the agency should not condition ski permits on the transfer of water rights obtained through a state process.

More Nation Ski Areas Association lawsuit coverage here.

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