Montana's Attorney General Austin Knudsen (R-MT) is calling on the state Land Board to take action at their May meeting on a private water rights case impacting farmers and ranchers. 

Before I had seen the press release from the Montana Department of Justice, I got an interesting, surprise phone call from Rep. Alan Redfield (R) in Montana's Paradise Valley. He was calling in to raise concerns about what he says is a very important water rights issue here in the state.

I thought he broke it down very simply for us. If a famer or rancher uses their private water rights to improve the state lands that they are leasing, the state (i.e. Department of Natural Resources and Conservation, or DNRC) shouldn't get to now take their water from them just because they temporarily used that water on state land.

Jocelyn Galt Cahill is a rancher in Broadwater County, Montana. She testified at the last Land Board meeting and is part of a group called The Senior Ag Water Rights Alliance (SAWRA). By the way- I've had some of their Avalanche Ranch steaks and they are incredibly good.

Here's what she told them at the last meeting.

Jocelyn Cahill: "I'm here today to ask you to step in and stop the DNRC from encroaching on our water rights. Last year, my family had an issue arise where we were diverting water onto a state land lease. This benefits the land when a rancher does this, but DNRC tried to come and claim part of our private water right. The only option we saw was to pull our infrastructure and end the use of water on that state lease. It is imperative that the Land Board grasps the gravity of this situation. I've talked to many ranchers dealing with this same nonsense. They're scared to use water on state leases, because they fear DNRC will come for them. This stifles the potential for land improvement, and undermines the essence of stewardship that defines our profession."

Click here to listen to the full testimony from the Land Board meeting. Public comment starts at 1 hour 1 minute. Her comments start at 1 hour 46 minutes.

And by the way- the surprise phone call from Alan Redfield came in about halfway during the below podcast:

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