Water plan hits choppy waters

After years of meetings, public hearings, work sessions and draft products, an updated Idaho State Water Plan was transmitted to the Idaho Legislature at the beginning of this legislative session for final review and adoption.

The Idaho Constitution allows the Legislature up to 60 days to adopt the plan as is or make amendments, otherwise the plan goes into effect as is.  Nearly thirty days into the session the House Resources and Conservation Committee held a hearing on House Bill 38 to adopt the plan.  Then, a group of House members decided to rewrite sections of the plan.

These House members worked with lobbyists and lawyers to take out references to climate change,  riparian and wetland habitat, as well as amendment references to Endangered Species Act protected fish like salmon and steelhead.  Many of these topics are in the plan and were shaped in part through participation by Trout Unlimited.

The House Resources Committee held a hearing Friday March 1st to print an amended Water Plan and set March 7th for a hearing on the bill.  The 60-day deadline runs out on March 8th and one report suggests the rewrite stands no chance to replace the submitted plan.  Meanwhile, others have sounded the alarm.

Trout Unlimited is disappointed in the rewrite given our extensive comments and participation in the process with the Idaho Water Resource Board.  We will continue to monitor the situation and alert TU grassroots leadership as events warrant.

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