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Delegation: Blueways Program Just Another Washington Power Grab

Delegation Opposes Administration’s New Attempt to Take Control of Wyoming’s Water.


February 14, 2013


WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senators Mike Enzi and John Barrasso and U.S. Representative Cynthia Lummis, all R-Wyo., wrote Interior Secretary Ken Salazar expressing opposition to Secretarial Order 3321.  The Order bypasses Congressional authority and local input to establish a “National Blueways System.”

Under this program, the federal government can designate a river and its associated watershed as a National Blueway, without involving or notifying the local residents of the impacted areas.  In their letter, the delegation points out that any designation by a federal agency that directly or indirectly attempts to manage the headwaters of our nation’s streams and rivers, is a usurpation of state authority.

“The Secretarial Order does not require that residents of impacted areas be afforded the opportunity to participate in advance of a Committee decision to recommend a designation.  This is unacceptable.  Impacted individuals and communities should be brought into the process at the beginning, not after major decisions have been reached.  We ask that upon the receipt of a request for designation impacting any watershed in Wyoming, that local Wyoming stakeholders within the watersheds be immediately notified of the request,” the Delegation wrote. 

Full text of the letter below:

February 14, 2013

The Honorable Ken Salazar
Secretary of the Interior
Department of Interior
1849 C St NW 
Washington, DC 20240

Dear Secretary Salazar:

As the Congressional Wyoming delegation, we are expressing our serious concerns regarding and opposition to Secretarial Order 3321, which establishes a “National Blueways System.”

Under this program, any “established stakeholder partnership” can nominate a watershed for designation.  According to Secretarial Order 3321, a committee comprised of federal agencies would consider such a designation and the Secretary of the Interior would make the final decision as to whether to designate a watershed as a National Blueway. The Order states that –

“Following consideration of recommendations made by the Committee, the Secretary may designate the river and its associated watershed as a National Blueway that will become part of the National Blueways System.”

The Secretarial Order does not require that residents of impacted areas be afforded the opportunity to participate in advance of a Committee decision to recommend a designation.  This is unacceptable.  Impacted individuals and communities should be brought into the process at the beginning, not after major decisions have been reached.  We ask that upon the receipt of a request for designation impacting any watershed in Wyoming, that local Wyoming stakeholders within the watersheds be immediately notified of the request.  Local stakeholders would include, but should not be limited to, property owners, water users, community leaders, and state, county, and local officials.

We also ask that there be ample opportunity for public comment and participation before any decision is made regarding a National Blueway designation.  Such an opportunity should be at least as stringent as the requirements of the Administrative Procedures Act.

Water is the lifeblood of our communities, and it should be managed for the benefit of the community in a transparent fashion. While water law varies by region, water is managed by the states, not the federal government. Any designation by a federal agency that directly or indirectly attempts to manage the headwaters of our nation’s streams and rivers, is a usurpation of state authority.

We ask that you acknowledge and respond to this request in a timely manner.

Sincerely,

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February 2013 News Releases