After ten long years of costly and continuous litigation, two very courageous and persistent Idaho Farm Bureau member families have prevailed over the United States in their cases to prove that they own water rights on federally administered lands.
This victory has cost these families dearly, in terms of emotional wear and tear and financial strain. The families have incurred well over $1 million in legal fees while standing up for what they know is right and proving once and for all that all Idaho ranchers who put water to beneficial use on federally administered lands legally own water rights.
The United States realized that most people don’t have either the fortitude or the resources to resist their claims that the U.S. owned the water. The federal government counted on the necessity of individuals and small businesses to abandon legitimate water rights, no matter how baseless the United States’ claims were, simply because the individuals cannot afford to defend their rights against the U.S.
What the federal government didn’t figure on was Tim Lowry, Paul Nettleton and their families having the courage, determination and fortitude necessary to stand up for their rights, in the face of extreme legal fees, and prove the U.S. government wrong.
Their victory is a victory for all of us. All agricultural or mining operations which utilize water on federally administered lands have more secure rights based on this important legal case. The following legal points were won in the Idaho Supreme Court: · The ranchers own state water rights on federally administered lands · The priority dates of the water rights date back to when the water was first put to beneficial use · The state water rights are appurtenant to the ranch property and need not be specifically listed on the deed · The U.S. government does not own and cannot hold stock water rights.
Unfortunately, these families now face the very real threat of losing all they have worked for by being faced with legal bills impossible for them to pay. This is where you come in. We are asking you to join with us to contribute towards the legal fees that have set a precedent for all Idaho families who graze on federally administered land.
How You Can Help
Join the fight, send a message, show you care. Send as much as you can afford to: Agricultural and Environmental Research Foundation, C/O Idaho Farm Bureau Federation, 275 Tierra Vista Drive, Pocatello, ID 83201
The Lowry's and Nettletons need to pay off their $1.5 legal bill, send this link to all your friends then post your thoughts on this blog.
Ranchers have worked the Owyhee Range since the 1860's. Send your donations to: Agricultural and Environmental Research Foundation, C/O Idaho Farm Bureau Federation, 275 Tierra Vista Drive, Pocatello, ID 83201