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Water Rights Case Finalized...Finally

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Possibly the longest running lawsuit in Wyoming history came to an end last Friday in Worland. Judge Robert Skar signed a final decree that brought closure to a controversial water rights case. The case examined some 20,000 possible water rights claims in and around the Wind River Indian Reservation over the course of 37 years. Water law professor Jason Robison was at the historic signing.

“The adjudication began in 1977. And although it’s possible that appeals may follow after the signing of the decree this past Friday, in the event that they do not, the signing of that decree finalized the adjudication.”

The signing of the decree is significant to the Northern Arapaho and Eastern Shoshone tribes because it gives them the right to use water from the Wind River that flows through their reservation for agriculture. Now the question is whether the tribes will be allowed to use the water for recreation, storage or fisheries. A symposium to discuss the implications of the case will take place at the casino in Riverton this Thursday and Friday. It’s open to the public.

Melodie Edwards is the host and producer of WPM's award-winning podcast The Modern West. Her Ghost Town(ing) series looks at rural despair and resilience through the lens of her hometown of Walden, Colorado. She has been a radio reporter at WPM since 2013, covering topics from wildlife to Native American issues to agriculture.

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