Ski Resorts' Water War Blows Up

Resorts file suit, counter fraud charges

Snowmaking at Mount Blue Cow, Perisher Blue Resort

Snowmaking at Mount Blue Cow, Perisher Blue Resort     Photo: laRuth

The National Ski Areas Association filed suit against the federal government on Monday as tension rises between the Forest Service and the ski industry over disputed water rights. In federal court in Denver, the NSAA accused the Forest Service of seizing privately owned property through a new permitting stipulation that requires ski areas operating on public land to transfer ownership of water rights to the government. Ed Ryberg, who headed up the USFS ski area program from 1992 to 2005, responded with a sacathing open letter addressed to Senator Mark Udall of Colorado. Ryberg defended the permitting change, which he says reverses damaging "Bush-era" deregulation of public water rights protections that have been in place since the 1980s. "The [2011] clause will ... only impact the bad actors in the ski industry who welshed on their agreements with the United States, and obtained water rights, justly belonging to the American people, through fraud and deception," Ryberg wrote.

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