Capitol Press published my op ed online this morning, laying out the case that the United States Forest Service was originally founded to protect private water rights, but now steadfastly opposes them. The Forest Service has radically inverted its mission: closing publicly owned forests to public access, mismanaging forest conditions to create extreme fire hazards, and subverting private property rights. But it was not always so. As I write in Capitol Press:
[T]here are two important facts to keep in mind about the national forests and the Forest Service.
First, by the time they were established, most of the land within them that was available for farming had been settled and was under private ownership, and the water resources necessary for agriculture had already been largely developed and subject to privately held water rights.
Second, one of the principal purposes of the establishment of national forests was to ensure that these water resources, which had been previously developed, could be effectively used by farming communities — by “securing favorable conditions of water flows,” as the founding statute put it.
Please read the entire piece here.