By Michael Howell
The Forest Service is engaged in ongoing water right appropriations for in-stream flows on forest land in several drainages in the valley. According to information provided by Jed Simon, Water Rights Program Manager for the USFS, the Forest Service has already obtained in-stream flow rights on Blodgett, Chicken, Hughes, Burnt Fork, Nez Perce, Sweathouse, Nelson and Bertie Lord Creeks and currently has applications pending on Bear, Boulder, Deer, Lavene and Lost Horse Creeks.
The County has filed objections to some of the latest applications including Blodgett, Laird and Lost Horse Creeks. These objections were all deemed deficient by DNRC for lack of standing and for lack of facts documenting that any of the relevant criteria were not being met.
On Tuesday, November 19, the Commissioners moved to file an objection to the most recent claims being pursued on Boulder Creek.
The in-stream flow water rights being obtained by the Forest Service are meant to protect the fisheries. They are junior to any downstream water rights and apply only on Forest Service land.
County Commissioner J.R. Iman maintains that the amount of water being claimed is not actually present for most of the summer and fall. He also disagrees with the validity of using the wetted perimeter method to establish the amount of flow being claimed.
Commissioner Greg Chilcott doesn’t believe it is just to allow the Forest Service to make water right claims in a closed basin when the citizens are prohibited from doing so.