Phillips County News - One Nation, Under God

By Ron Stoneberg
Hinsdale, Mont 

Federal land grazers are losing their vested water rights


January 8, 2020

Ranchers running livestock on federally managed lands are facing a major taking of which few appear to be aware. The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has filed thousands of water rights with the Montana Department of Natural Resources (DNRC). The problem is these filings conflict with the vested water rights of the allotment holders.

Montana is a prior appropriation doctrine state which means, 'first in time, first in right' (miners' law). Most of the ranches using federal lands were established long before the BLM came into existence. Montana law also states the water must be put to ben...

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