Letter to the Editor – Aug. 1

Dear Editor and fellow Sundance Times readers,
Last week, the Sundance Times published an article inviting readers to become X-Stream Anglers by fishing three designated instream flow areas and sending in a photo for a free baseball cap with the Instream Flow logo. The single-source article sounded like this was a benign government program protecting about 130 fragile fishing habitat areas. Looking into the full story, however, reveals an environmental agenda that could threaten individual property rights and the principles of our Founding Fathers that Wyoming citizens hold dear.
X-Stream Angler is an initiative by the Wyoming Game & Fish Commission, and its administrative agency, the Wyoming Game & Fish Department (WG&FD), to publicize and get public support for its instream flow program. Success of its instream flow management plan, according to the Department’s latest plan report, will depend upon a successful public marketing campaign which needs photos for promotional publications and reports. The instream flow agenda is to acquire water rights from flowing streams using the same laws the EPA has used to seize other kinds of water rights, according to the WG&FD website.
This agenda goes against efforts to restore America’s property rights by Wyoming Senator, John Barrasso and dozens of other Senators. For years, they’ve been fighting against the government’s unprecedented power grab to take over private waters in the U.S. and pre-empt local residents, farmers, ranchers, small business owners and homeowners from deciding how best to use and protect water resources. As was reported in the 2001 U.S. Senate Report, “Clouded Waters,” the government’s environmental water regulations impose “huge financial costs without local input or any assurance of water quality improvement.” The total cost of these programs to states, towns, farming and ranching, and tax payers run into “the tens, if not hundreds, of billions of dollars.”
There are over 25,000 miles and streams with fisheries in the state, making the potential impact and costs of instream flow regulations of enormous consequence for farmers, ranchers, private property owners, and every citizen of our state.
Out-of-state environmental groups are largely behind this agenda and are becoming increasingly emboldened. When founded in 1939, the primary focus of the WG&FD was limited to enforcing fish and wildlife laws. With the successful passage of instream flow laws in 1986, its focused changed to acquiring instream flow water rights for the state. Tom Annear, Water Management Coordinator at WG&FD, has drafted and co-authored the Department’s instream flow management plans. Its first formal plan in 1994 concentrated these efforts on public lands and streams with existing flow agreements under other authorities. Subsequent plans have been looking at ever-widening opportunities to assume water rights beyond federally administered lands to private lands, irrigation, and storage rights. They cite the need to preserve wildlife and aquatic habitats for the public good because “water belongs to all of us.”
The WG&FD’s latest 2011 Water Management Unit Plan and Stream Prioritization — authored by Annear and Michael Robertson, Regional Director of Instream Flow Council (IFC)— explains that the direction for the state’s water management plans is guided by the IFC, which will also provide the studies to identify waters to prioritize for upcoming acquisition.
The IFC, established in 2009, is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization based in Lewistown, Montana. It is largely funded by the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, based in Menlo Park, California, which gave more than $4 billion in 2000-2013 alone for environmental and global social causes. As David Horowitz and Jacob Laksin’s investigative book, The New Leviatan, reported, the Hewlett Foundation is one of the richest and most radical left progressive funders in the world with political influence of unprecedented magnitude.
IFC’s mission, according to its 2010-2015 Strategic Plan, is to expand its comprehensive efforts to guide state and regional fish and wildlife agencies so that they manage flowing water resources, including “estuaries, lakes, reservoirs and other inter-connected water resources” in a way that respects the “societal values of these ecosystems.”
IFC members include personnel within the very same public agencies they work to influence. Tom Annear, WG&FD Water Management Coordinator, for instance, is also cofounder of IFC, its first president and now its Director-at-large. And Kathleen Williams, a Montana state representative, is also the former executive director of IFC; as well as former Water Resources Program Manager for Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks Committee and chair of the statewide Natural Resources Committee.
To Wyoming K2TV viewers a few years ago, Annear equated stream waters to coal ? not a “commodity that can be removed and used,” but only for “non-consumptive use.” That left little doubt what the future may hold for Wyoming’s streams and watersheds.
Sandy Szwarc