WATER RIGHTS & NATURAL RESOURCES
Mr. Shuck handles various types of water rights and natural resource cases, both large and small, including:
Temporary Water Use Agreements (to provide Ag water temporarily for oil and gas or highway construction uses)
Temporary Water Hauls
Permitting of New Water Rights and related issues
Assistance with SEO's Beneficial Use and Completion Forms
Change Petitions before the Board of Control
Endangered Species issues
Ditch Easement and Access issues
Legal Action to Compel Delivery of Water
Legal Action to Prevent Interference with Water Deliveries
Conservation District, Irrigation District, & Canal Company issues
Groundwater Interference Claims
Groundwater Control Area issues
Transfers of Water Rights
Due Diligence for Buyers of Land
Water Rights Search
See also "Farm, Ranch, and Agricultural Law" page for more info
EXAMPLES OF PAST WATER LAW CASES
Mr. Shuck has represented the State of Wyoming and other clients in high profile water rights cases, including the following:
CSKT/Flathead Reservation Water Compact. Mr. Shuck represented an association of 100-150 agricultural producers -- both tribal members and non-tribal members -- in the Flathead River system in northwestern Montana who opposed the proposed Compact. Over the course of nearly 2 years, Mr. Shuck obtained numerous Court Orders preventing the federal government’s and CSKT Tribes’ Compact from being approved by the State of Montana and provided testimony before the Montana Senate Natural Resources Committee and the House Judiciary Committee on the proposed Compact.
30-Mile Change of Place of Use Petition. Mr. Shuck was successful in obtaining Board of Control approval of a change of place of use moving water rights approximately 30 miles. This is the longest distance change to have ever been approved.
West Side Canal Litigation. Mr. Shuck represented irrigators with Wyoming water rights attached to Colorado lands in litigating their right to receive the full amount of their water through the West Side Canal. The Court ruled in favor of Mr. Shuck’s client and ordered the canal company to deliver the full amount of water.
Big Horn River Adjudication. As a member of the three-attorney team representing the State of Wyoming in the Big Horn River General Stream Adjudication, Mr. Shuck represented the State before the Special Master, the District Court, and the Wyoming Supreme Court. Mr. Shuck also participated in settlement negotiations between the Shoshone and Arapaho Tribes, the State of Wyoming, the Bureau of Reclamation (Bur. Rec.), the Department of the Interior (DOI), and the Department of Justice (DOJ). The parties were successful before the Wyoming Supreme Court in the Big Horn 6 case and were successful in negotiating a settlement involving “appurtenancy” of Walton Rights on the Wind River Indian Reservation.
Final Report on the Endangered Species Act and Indian Water Rights. On behalf of nine (9) Western States, Mr. Shuck acted as the primary draftsman in a joint effort to oppose the Final Report of the Working Group on the Endangered Species Act and Indian Water Rights. The Working Group was created by Interior in 1997 and charged with recommending ways to implement the Endangered Species Act so as to benefit, or at least not act to the detriment of, Indian Tribes.
Montana-Crow Tribe Compact Negotiations and the Yellowstone River Compact. Mr. Shuck participated in a number of negotiating sessions between Wyoming, Montana, the DOJ, the DOI, and the Crow Tribe during the winter and spring of 1999. Although Wyoming was not a party to the proposed compact, Mr. Shuck attended those meetings as counsel to the Wyoming State Engineer. The goal was to monitor those negotiations and assure Wyoming water users that any proposed settlement would not bargain away water allocated to Wyoming under the Yellowstone River Compact. Those negotiating sessions eventually lead to a proposed water rights settlement that has only recently received Congressional approval.
Expansion of FERC Jurisdiction for ESA Purposes. Mr. Shuck represented Wyoming in its effort to oppose the DOI’s efforts to expand FERC jurisdiction over Bear Lake incident to re-licensing three (3) downstream hydropower facilities. In cooperation with Idaho and Utah, Wyoming opposed DOI’s Motion to Intervene in proceedings to establish FERC jurisdiction over Bear Lake. The Portland Regional Solicitor’s Office sought to overturn a 1997 order holding that FERC lacks jurisdiction over Bear Lake. The DOI conceded it was attempting to intervene for purposes of protecting Bonneville Cutthroat Trout -- a species the FWS decided is neither threatened nor endangered. The three (3) States’ efforts were successful in convincing FERC to reaffirm its order holding that it does not have jurisdiction over Bear Lake. Further, on appeal, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the decision, agreeing with the three (3) States’ position. Bear River Compact Issues. On behalf of Wyoming, Mr. Shuck worked extensively with Utah and Idaho, as well as PacifiCorp and ScottishPower, on issues of concern to the three (3) signatories to the Bear River Compact, as well as water users and recreational interests in the three (3) States. Mr. Shuck participated on behalf of Wyoming in the FERC re-licensing process for three (3) hydroelectric projects on the Bear River. Such efforts required diplomacy, an understanding of the current status of the law and the various interests that must be balanced, and knowledge of how this unique river system works.
Forest Service Conditions on FERC Hydropower Project Licenses. Mr. Shuck participated in and monitored efforts to oppose the Forest Service’s request to add by-pass flow conditions during FERC hydropower project re-licensing proceedings. In one such instance, the Forest Service recommended water be denied to water users for the benefit of recovering trout species that had not been listed as threatened or endangered. The Forest Service ignored recommendations from State water administrators advising that, under the circumstances, bypass flows would not help in recovering the species and would cause a severe water shortage for downstream irrigators. Instead, the Forest Service continued to exert its influence over the FERC re-licensing process. The Forest Service retracted its recommendation after it became obvious that the bypass plan was ill-conceived.
Other Negotiations Involving Federal and State Agencies. Mr. Shuck was involved in negotiations involving the Bur. Rec., DOJ, DOI, the Regional Solicitor’s Office, irrigators, the mining industry, and other Western States. Mr. Shuck has seen what works in these negotiations and what does not and has gained an understanding of the various concerns and relative positions of these agencies, tribes, stakeholders, and States with respect to various water, environmental, and tribal issues.