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Congressman Scott Tipton

Representing the 3rd District of Colorado

Tipton Introduces Bills to Protect Western Water and Private Property Rights in the 116th Congress

January 17, 2019
Press Release

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman Scott Tipton (CO-03) reintroduced two bills that are critical to the protection of water and private property rights. The Water Rights Protection Act (H.R. 579) upholds federal deference to state water law and prevents federal takings of privately held water rights. The Protection and Transparency for Adjacent Landowners Act (H.R. 580) increases transparency and certainty for private landowners during a federal land acquisition, reclassification or resurvey process.

Congressman Tipton: “Private property rights must be protected at all costs and these bills get straight to the point. The federal government should not have the right to seize private water rights as a condition of renewing permits. The Water Rights Protection Act would ensure the protection of this precious resource that is vital to ski areas, farmers, ranchers, and other businesses in the West.

“When the federal government acquires land, it runs the risk of devaluing adjacent privately-owned land, and in some instances, resurveys of public lands will result in the re-classification of lands previously thought to be private as public. We need the Protection and Transparency for Adjacent Landowners Act to require notification to be given to private land owners in these circumstances. Private landowners deserve transparency and must be given the opportunity to protect their livelihoods."

The Water Rights Protection Act has gained support from the National Ski Areas Association, Colorado Water Congress, and the American Farm Bureau Federation. The bill:

  • Prohibits agencies from implementing a permit condition that requires the transfer of privately-held water rights to the federal government in order to receive or renew a permit for the use of land;
  • Prohibits the Secretary of the Interior and the Secretary of Agriculture from imposing other conditions that require the transfer of water rights without just compensation;
  • Upholds longstanding federal deference to state water law;
  • Maintains environmental safeguards and will not impact Bureau of Reclamation water contracts in any way. Likewise, the legislation will have no impact any authority existing within a jurisdiction. These are outside the scope of the legislation;
  • Has no cost to taxpayers.

More information on this bill can be found here.

The Protection and Transparency for Adjacent Landowners Act:

  • Requires the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and the United States Forest Service (USFS) to provide advance written notice to each owner of land that is located adjacent to a parcel of land that is to be acquired by the agency;
  • If the BLM or USFS determines that property previously believed to be private property should be reclassified as federal land, the private landowner must have the first right of refusal to purchase the land at fair market value, or be reimbursed for the fair market value of any significant improvements they made to the land;
  • If the BLM or USFS determines that property previously believed to be private property should be reclassified as federal land, the private landowner cannot be charged with trespassing unless they access the land after they had knowledge that the land was owned by the federal government.

More information on this bill can be found here.

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