19-05: Requesting the BLM Complete an Environmental Assessment or an Environmental Impact Statement Concerning Its Filing on Pre-Existing Water Rights

WHEREAS, The Montana Conservation Districts are mandated by statue (75-15-102 MCA) to protect the soils, water, citizens, and economic base of Montana; and

WHEREAS, the Montana State Constitution passed in 1973 directed the Department of Natural Resources and Conservation (DNRC) to resolve the conflicting Montana water rights claims; and

WHEREAS, for the past 35 years the DNRC have been rerecording prior water rights and attempting to address conflicts; and

WHEREAS, at some point in the process the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) filed on the water on the federal lands they manage that are also claimed by the allotment holders; and

WHEREAS, this action by the BLM will have a devastating impact on the ranching industry in Montana;

WHEREAS, federal laws (National Environmental Policy of 1969 and the Federal Land Policy and Management Act of 1976) mandate either an Environmental Assessment (EA) or an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) be completed prior to the agency completing an action that could impact the local environment, economy or health and welfare of the residents;

NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, the Montana Association of Conservation Districts considers the filing of water rights by the BLM to be a major agency action that meets the requirements spelled out in NEPA and FLPMA and demand the BLM initiate the review process.