Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Legacy Project hits milestone

As I write this, legislation is being drafted that, if passed by the Idaho Legislature, will provide the Big Wood River basin with an alternative to current Idaho water law. That alternative will provide people with legal water rights a means to place their water in-stream to be used for recreational as well as agricultural uses with no loss of priority date. It's a long way from the current use-it-or-lose-it system now in place.

I became involved with the Legacy Project at the beginning because it offered a possible solution to the mostly dry river channel below the Glendale Bridge. As we moved along it became apparent to me that the way to do that would require a change in state water law and that if that were to happen it could have significant effects on the way that water can be managed in the state. That has been the driving force behind the project's effort and the countless hours of hard work by Rich McIntyre to bring us to this point.

A wide support base has been developed that will be necessary if the legislation is to succeed. This group is diverse and bipartisan and all of them have come together with a desire to provide some other alternative to current Idaho water law.

So, yes, I am excited by where this project is at this point. I am excited by the prospect that it can give this state an alternative to current water management and to provide additional in-stream flows for fish and wildlife with no loss of priority date to the donator, and, most of all, to be able to bring agriculture, anglers and recreation users together with a dialog that serves them all and offers the opportunity to look at our rivers and streams in a different light.

The Wood River Legacy Project is close to becoming a legacy.

Butch Harper


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