From: Steven K. Paulson, Associated Press
Published November 9, 2004 12:00 AM

Court Won't Intervene in Gunnison Fight

DENVER - The Colorado Supreme Court decided Monday not to intervene in a federal lawsuit that claims an agreement between state and federal authorities leaves too little water in the Gunnison River to support fish and other wildlife.


The court's decision means the lawsuit can proceed. The dispute centers on how much water should remain in the river that flows through the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park.


State and federal officials defend their agreement, saying it will protect the national park while providing water for further economic development of the state's Front Range.


Randy See, a water policy analyst for the Western Colorado Congress, a conservation and citizens lobby that is not part of the case, said letting the lawsuit proceed is best for fish and wildlife.


He said the state wants to leave less water in the Gunnison so more would be available if needed for the Front Range, the area of the state east of the Rockies that includes Colorado Springs, Denver and Boulder.


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"They want the water for agriculture, municipalities and industry," See said.


Monday's ruling settles a side issue in the three-decade-old battle. The Colorado state water court had ordered the state and federal governments to stop negotiating the specifics of the Gunnison River agreement until the environmentalists' lawsuit is heard. The state Supreme Court upheld the water court.


Source: Associated Press


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