DENVER – A dispute between Colorado ski areas and the Forest Service has caught the attention of the White House, which on Thursday threatened to veto a water-rights bill that U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton, R-Cortez presented on the House floor Wednesday, March 12. Meanwhile in Denver, state senators delayed a vote on a related bill by Sen. Ellen Roberts, R-Durango, out of concerns that it improperly singles out the Forest Service.
The bills in Washington and Denver address an effort by the Forest Service to gain title to water rights used by ski resorts that lease federal land.
“This is important to the West. We hope the president won’t politicize this because this isn’t a Republican or Democrat issue,” Tipton said in a phone interview.
Rep. Jared Polis, D-Boulder, is a co-sponsor of Tipton’s bill, and a few other Western Democrats also support it.
The Forest Service has sought greater control of ski water rights since the 1980s. A federal judge in Denver overturned a previous agency policy that required ski areas to assign their water rights to the government in return for lease extensions. The agency plans to release a new policy for public review soon.
Check out the full story on the Durango Herald’s website here.