Still No Water For The Woods

Still No Water For The Woods
The limited federal ability to protect aquatic resources on federal lands is greatly exacerbated by the disjunct between state water laws and federal laws. Most states water systems do not recognize the need for aquatic resources on federal lands unless the need is articulated in a state-controlled water right. Most state water rights do not recognize the federal resource needs as “beneficial” and view flowing water not captured in a state water right as wasted. No state views wilderness preservation as a beneficial use which can be protected under state law. Many states grant private water rights on federal land without any concern for the aquatic needs and health of the federal land. Furthermore, for too long the state's litigation and policy efforts have been dominated by traditional irrigation and water extraction users, and many states have not considered the broad needs of other members of its citizenry who want and enjoy the instream resources federal agencies are obligated to steward and protect. Attempts by environmental groups to advocate for non-consumptive instream flow uses have had limited success. These groups do not own water rights and have been found to either lack standing or lack an injury recognized by the water courts.
Preserving healthy forests and watersheds, sustaining traditional beneficial uses, and addressing important instream flow needs on federal lands should be the mutual goal of federal, state, and local governments. In short, we need to assure there is “water in the woods” for generations to come.
Begin Date
End Date
Originator Name
Lois Witte, ALI-ABA Federal Lands Law Conference
October 19, 2001
Salt Lake City, Utah
Federal, Law, State, Water Law, Water Rights
Resource Type
Resource Owner

To the owner of Still No Water For The Woods

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