Ag Groups, State Prevail in Water Rights Case

by Colter Brown

The Montana Farm Bureau is applauding a success story with the First Judicial District Court – Lewis & Clark County, dismissing the Advocates for School Trust Lands case. The State of Montana was a defendant in the water rights case, along with the Montana Farm Bureau, Montana Stockgrowers Association, Montana Water Resources Association and the Association of Gallatin Agricultural Irrigators.

“It’s a great success that these agricultural organizations worked together to take a stand on a case that would have expanded the school trust lands law,” said MFBF Executive Vice President John Youngberg. The law, HB 286 which passed two years ago in the 2019 Montana Legislative Session, required the Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation to follow a legal process prior to inserting the State’s name on privately owned water rights.

That law had been challenged by the Advocates for School Trust Lands after it was passed two year ago, and today the court dismissed the challenge.

“Farmers, ranchers and their corresponding organizations got together and prevailed in this case,” said Youngberg. “We thank everyone, including Lund Law who represented agriculture in the case, to allow HB 286 to protect water rights owners across the state.”

 

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MFBF


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