Home » Federal Lands Management » Reason Five: Laws exist to protect water supply and levels in National Forests

Forests replenish our well-being

Even though there are scientific, logical reasons for preserving our forests, natural places also provide a setting for mental health through giving sanctuary for spiritual connection and rejuvenation, and physical health through recreational opportunities for families and groups, including observing and enjoying birds and animals of the forests.

“That each day I may walk unceasingly on the banks of my water, that my soul may repose on the branches of the trees which I planted, that I may refresh myself under the shadow of my sycamore.”

  ~Egyptian tomb inscription, circa 1400 BC

A long list of Americans who honored this wonderful continent "America" on planet Earth. They saw us as caregivers to preserve this legacy--not only for the scientific reasons for needing trees in our environment--but they beheld the beauty of nature and felt a difference in their attitude, spirit and well-being.

"I only went out for a walk and finally concluded to stay out till sundown, for going out, I found, was really going in."  ~John Muir, 1913

A journal of living and loving in the East Texas Woods

Nature and trees nurture body, mind and soul. I was fortunate to have been able to enjoy a year in a National Forest setting. Memories of those days of peace and connection to delightful, non-judging, ever-changing nature sustain me in my daily challenges. That peace and joy is a part of my being.

You can find out more about my retreat and be inspired to take a retreat yourself!! It will make a difference in your life.

cover image showing trees, old barn and clouds

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Welcome to the Woods

Reason Five: Laws exist to protect water supply and levels in National Forests

Development and Status of Federal Reserved Water Rights:

The mandate regarding Federal rights to water was established in 1908 by Winters v. United States.
 

When the United States reserves public land for uses such as Indian reservations, military reservations, national parks, forest, or monuments, it also implicitly reserves sufficient water to satisfy the purposes for which the reservation was created. Both reservations made by presidential executive order or those made by an act of Congress have implied reserved rights. The date of priority of a federal reserved right is the date the reservation was established.

Source: http://www.blm.gov/pgdata/etc/medialib/blm/co/field_offices/denca/DENCA_Advisory_Council/extra_materials_for.Par.33214.File.dat/FedResWaterRights.pdf

Subsequent laws have attempted to water down the original intent. However, in a case in 1999 in Arizona regarding water on BLM land, a Federal Judge reaffirmed the Federal rights are still in tact. The presiding judge wrote, “The [Winter’s] doctrine applies not only to Indian reservations, but to other federal enclaves, such as national parks, forests, monuments, military bases, and wildlife preserves.”

The Federal rights to water in our public lands, including National Forests were reasserted again in the Gila River Adjudication in Arizona:

SUPREME COURT OF ARIZONA
195 Ariz. 411;989 P.2d 739;1999 Ariz.
http://www.g-a-l.info/AZAdjudication.htm

From Opinion by Judge Noel A. Fidel:

The reserved water rights doctrine provides:

When the Federal Government withdraws its land from the public domain and reserves it for a federal purpose, the Government, by implication, reserves appurtenant water then unappropriated to the extent needed to accomplish the purpose of the reservation. In so doing the United States acquires a reserved right in unappropriated water which vests on the date of the reservation and is superior to the rights of future appropriators.

Cappaert v. United States, 426 U.S. 128, 138, 48 L. Ed. 2d 523, 96 S. Ct. 2062 (1976). The doctrine applies not only to Indian reservations, but to other federal enclaves, such as national parks, forests, monuments, military bases, and wildlife preserves. Id. at 138-39;Arizona v. California, 373 U.S. 546, 601, 10 L. Ed. 2d 542, 83 S. Ct. 1468 (1963).

 


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National Forests are threatened!

By non-sustainable hard-rock mining

Trees of our forests are the Earth’s sentinels protecting and insuring the continuation of life. Trees provide clean water, clean air, clean soil, shade and habitat. We must protect them; they must flourish for life on the Earth to continue.

Forests sustain life from two streams. First, there are scientific reasons. Trees produce oxygen necessary for human and animal life. Trees hold the soil, prevent erosion and filter air and rainwater. The National Forest (FS) mission statement “caring for the land and serving the people” and FS management Acts emphasize securing and protecting of watershed. Second and equally important--trees provide opportunities for humans to enjoy healthy exercise, recreation and contemplation in shady, quiet, natural places to rejuvenate their body, mind and spirit.

Urgency of Mining Law Reform

Oak Flat Land Exchange

Elias Butler video on protecting Oak Flat in Tonto National Forest

Creation of National Forest Reserves

The National Forest System was created to protect our forests from destruction by grazing, mining and unregulated cutting, which were already deemed a problem in the late 1800’s. In 1882, the U.S. President, Chester A. Arthur, stated: "The conditions of the forests and the wasteful manner in which their destruction is taking place give cause for serious apprehension."

The Forest Reserve Act of 1891 authorized the Presidents of the United States to set aside forest reserves from the lands in the Public Domain. The Act was passed under Benjamin Harrison’s administration (1889-1893). He responded by putting 13 million acres of land into National Forests. The succeeding presidents, Grover Cleveland (1893-1897) put in 25 million acres and William McKinley (1897-1901) put in 7 million acres. However, the champion of the forest preservation was Theodore Roosevelt (1901-1909). Under Roosevelt's pen the forest reserves went from approximately 43,000,000 acres to about 194,000,000 acres, an increase of over 400%.

Over 100 years ago, four U.S. Presidents knew that trees of the forest sustained health and well-being for humans and wildlife. However, we of the "scientific age" aren't able to figure it out.