Draining the West? Participants and Biographies
Below is a list of experts and activists who discussed western water issues at the Idaho Public Television studio in Boise on Tuesday, May 7th, 2002.
- John W. Keys III is Commissioner for the Bureau of Reclamation. As Commissioner, Keys is committed to developing creative solutions
to meet the current and future water resource challenges facing the
West through collaboration and cooperation with states, tribes, water
users and others. Keys places great emphasis on operating and maintaining
Reclamation projects to ensure continued delivery of water and power
benefits to the public consistent with environmental and other requirements,
and to honor state water rights, interstate compacts, and contracts
with Reclamation's users.
Keys has spent his entire 34-year professional career working with Reclamation
throughout the Western United States. From 1964 to 1979, he worked as
a civil and hydraulic engineer, gaining valuable experience on issues
related to the Great Basin, the Missouri River Basin, the Colorado River
Basin, and the Columbia River Basin. In 1995, Keys was awarded Interior's
highest honor, The Distinguished Service Award, for maintaining
open lines of communication and keeping interest groups focused on solutions.
In 1998, he retired from the federal civil service, having served as Pacific
Northwest Regional Director for 12 years. In early 2001 the Bush administration
appointed Keys to head the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, and in July of
that year the U.S. Senate confirmed him by unanimous consent.
In his life outside of Reclamation, Keys is a commercial airplane pilot
and a referee for both college and high school football games.
- Jeff Fassett was Wyoming's State Engineer for thirteen years
and was designated as the chief water resource official responsible
for the appropriation, beneficial use and general supervision and regulation
of all waters in Wyoming. Fassett currently runs an engineering consulting
firm based in Cheyenne, WY that specializes in water rights, water resources
engineering and water policy matters.
Fassett's areas of expertise include: Wyoming and Western Water Law;
Instream Flow Protection; Tribal and Federal Reserved Water Rights -
Quantification, Negotiation, Litigation, and Administration; Safety
of Dams; Hydrologic Evaluations; and Water Marketing and Transfers.
- Kay Brothers is the Deputy General Manager of Southern Nevada Water Authority Engineering and Operations. Previously, Brothers worked
as a hydrologist and helped develop the Las Vegas Valley Water District's
artificial recharge program to store treated Colorado River water in
the Valley's ground-water aquifers for future use. She has also worked
in the petroleum and mining industry doing environmental compliance,
water treatment design, and designing groundwater monitoring and mitigation
- David Getches is currently the Raphael J. Moses Professor of
Natural Resources Law at the University of Colorado School of Law. He
teaches and writes on water law, public land law, environmental law,
and Indian law. As the Executive Director of the Colorado Department
of Natural Resources (1983-1987), Getches strongly advocated water conservation,
pressed for groundwater law reform, advanced ideas for better cooperative
management and control of the Colorado River, urged expansion of the
state's designated wilderness areas, and spoke out on the importance
of recreation and wildlife to the state's economy.
Getches is also known as the founding Executive Director of the Native
American Rights Fund (NARF). Getches litigated a number of major cases
including: a Northwest Indian fishing rights case (United States v.
Washington, also known as "the Boldt decision") and a case on behalf
of Eskimos to establish the North Slope Borough, the largest municipality
in the world, which includes the Prudhoe Bay oil fields. Other cases
dealt with water rights, land claims, federal trust responsibilities,
environmental issues, education, and civil rights on behalf of Native
American clients throughout the West.
- Albert Barker is a partner with a water and natural resource
law firm with offices in Boise and Twin Falls and has practiced water,
natural resources and environmental law for over 20 years. Clients include
operators of canals, laterals and drains in the Boise River basin. He
is also counsel to the Lucky Peak Power Plant project, a 110-megawatt
Barker has represented water users in litigation under the Clean Water
Act over Idaho's TMDL program and in litigation over Clean Water Act
permits and in establishing water quality criteria. He is also currently
involved in the Endangered Species Act proceedings involving anadromous
fish, bull trout, snails and other aquatic species, and is an active
participant in the Snake River Basin Adjudication.
- Gayle Batt is assistant director of Idaho Water Users, a nonprofit
corporation, representing approximately 300 canal companies, irrigation
districts, agri-businesses, professional firms and individuals based
in Idaho. Batt is also executive director for the Idaho Water Education
Foundation and is a partner in G & T Farms.
- Emily Braswell is currently the executive director for Truckee
Meadows Regional Planning Agency representing Reno, Sparks, and Washoe
County in Northern Nevada. Her background is in general planning, with
substantial experience in transportation planning and forays into the
areas of economic development, housing and environmental planning.
- Marti Bridges Marti Bridges has been working in the areas of Idaho water quality and Idaho water policy for over twenty years. Her career has included employment stints in both the federal and non-profit sector where she
gained considerable expertise in agricultural water quality and quanitity issues, instream flows, wild and scenic river management, endangered aquatic species, water rights, and Bureau of Reclamation project management. Bridges currently serves as the TMDL (total maxium daily load) water quality program manager for the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality.
She holds a BS from the College of Forestry and Natural Resources at
Colorado State University and an MPA with an emphasis in natural
resource and environmental policy from Boise State University.
- Vern Case lives and farms in Arena Valley, west of Wilder,
Idaho. He has been a member of the Wilder Irrigation District Board
of Directors since 1979. In addition, Vernon has been a member and director
of the Idaho Water Users Association since 1981. He was President of
the Association for two years, in 1994 and 1995. Vern is the Nez Perce
Coalition Lower Snake representative.
- Michael Creamer is an attorney for a Boise, Idaho law firm
where he practices in the areas of natural resources, environmental
and public utilities matters. His particular areas of expertise include
water rights and public lands, and consultation and litigation involving
telecommunications and energy law.
Creamer has been actively involved on behalf of various water users
in the Snake River Basin adjudication since 1989. Prior to his current
practice, Creamer served for seven years as a District Manager for the
Division of Wildlife, Colorado Department of Natural Resources. He has
also served as Vice-Chair (1996- 1998) and as Chair (1998-2000) of the
Water Law Section of the Idaho State Bar.
- Sara Denniston Eddie is a legal and policy advocate on hydropower,
energy, and public lands issues at Idaho Rivers United, Idaho's only
statewide river conservation group. She is on the executive board of
the Northwest Energy Coalition and steering committee for the Hydropower
Reform Coalition. Prior to joining Idaho Rivers United, Eddie was a
natural resources attorney for the State of Idaho.
- Wes Edmo of the Shoshone-Bannock Tribe is treasurer for the
Fort Hall Business Council and has a MSW in social work from Boise State
- Delbert Farmer
- Jeff Fereday is an attorney for a Boise, Idaho law firm where
he practices exclusively in the fields of water, natural resources and
environmental law. He also worked as a staff attorney for the Interior
Department Solicitor's office, and is the current reporter in Idaho
for the Rocky Mountain Mineral Law Foundation mineral and water law
newsletters. Fereday is also the past President of the Idaho State Bar's
Water Law Section.
- Rick Johnson is the executive director of the Idaho Conservation
League and works to protect and restore the water, wildlands, and wildlife
of Idaho through citizen action, public education, and professional
advocacy. Johnson provides strategic oversight of Idaho Conservation
League's work, ensures accountability, and is the lead fundraiser and
is a recognized national leader in effective conservation advocacy.
He began his association with the Idaho Conservation League as a volunteer
in 1983 and joined the staff in the mid-eighties to run the public lands
program. Prior to this, he worked for the Sierra Club in Seattle, where
he co-directed the Sierra Club's national campaign to protect the ancient
forests of the Northwest. He has also staffed several electoral campaigns
in the Northwest.
- Laird J. Lucas is a 1986 graduate of Yale Law School. After
law school, he clerked for a federal district judge in Texas, and then
worked in private practice for several years in San Franciso.
In 1993, Laird became Senior Staff Attorney and Director of the Idaho
office for the Land and Water Fund of the Rockies, a non-profit environmental
law firm. Laird recently opened his own law practice, and continues
to work with the Land and Water Fund as Senior Counsel. He represents
conservation groups in Idaho and throughout the West on a variety of
environmental law issues involving water, public lands, and natural
- Robert Matt is the Wildlife Manager for the Coeur d'Alene Tribe.
Matt is involved in hydro-power mitigation, in particular, as regards
to the effects of the Columbia River power system. He is also involved
in the current activities related to the licensing of several new dams
proposed for the Spokane River.
- Aaron Miles, Sr., Nez Perce Tribe, Director, Natural Resources
- Bruce Newcomb, the current Speaker of the House for the Idaho
Legislature, was raised on a farm and ranch near Burley, Idaho. Newcomb
attended Northwest Christian College, Stanford, and the University of
Oregon. He came back to the farm in 1963, where he raised potatoes,
cattle and wheat; he has continued to farm in Idaho for almost 40 years.
In 1987 Newcomb was elected to the Idaho Legislature, where he served
as caucus chairman, assistant majority leader, majority leader, and
Speaker. Newcomb describes his water philosophy this way: "I am a strong
supporter of the Prior Appropriation Doctrine and State Primacy on water
issues. I have always endeavored to keep abreast of any and all water
issues affecting Idaho."
- Dave Rittenhouse is the supervisor for the Boise National Forest.
- Bill Sedivy is the executive director for Idaho Rivers United
and is the author of River's End: A collection of bedtime stories
for paddlers (1995).
- Norm Semanko is currently the executive director and general
counsel for the Idaho Water Users Association, serves on the Board for
National Water Resources Association (NWRA) and is a member of the Family
Farm Alliance Advisory Committee. Previously, Semanko was a shareholder
in a Twin Falls law firm concentrating in water, environmental and natural
resources law, and legislative affairs. He also served as legislative
assistant to Senator Larry E. Craig (R-Idaho) (1988-1993) and as a research
analyst with the Republican National Committee (1992).
- Dave Shaw, is an engineer who manages the Boise office for
ERO Resources Corporation, and is a principal of the Denver based natural
resources consulting firm. His experience in water resources and management
dates from 1974. He specializes in the identification, analysis, and
resolution of water issues including coordination with other professionals
in multi-disciplinary projects. Prior to joining ERO, Shaw was the adjudication
bureau chief for the State of Idaho Department of Water Resources.
- John Simpson, Water Attorney.
- Dan Steenson obtained his law degree in 1990 from the University
of Colorado. He is a member of the Boise City Organic Recycling Committee.
He practices in the areas of water law, natural resources law, agricultural
law, public land law, environmental law and legislative law. He is a
member of the Idaho State Bar, Water Law Section, and Idaho Association
of Commerce and Industry.
- Clive Strong is the chief of the Natural Resources Division
for the Office of the Idaho Attorney General. He works exclusively in
the areas of Environmental, Natural Resources and Indian Law. He is
the lead attorney for the State of Idaho in the Snake River Basin Adjudication,
which involves over 150,000 claims to water rights by private, state
and federal interests. As part of the adjudication, he negotiated the
1990 Fort Hall Indian Water Rights Agreement and is engaged in several
other federal reserved water rights negotiations. Strong is also coordinating
the State of Idaho's litigation over the listing of anadromous fish
under the Endangered Species Act.
Strong has lectured extensively on legal topics related to federal reserved
water rights, the Endangered Species Act, and federalism issues. He
is admitted to the Idaho and Washington State Bars. He is also admitted
to the U.S. Supreme Court and several Federal District Courts and Circuit
Courts of Appeal.
- Meredith Taylor is the Yellowstone program director for the
Wyoming Outdoor Council. She primarily covers public lands issues including
wildlife, water, wilderness, minerals, range, roadless areas, forests
and endangered species. Taylor has been involved in Greater Yellowstone
Ecosystem conservation issues for almost 25 years and has served on
numerous committees working with a wide diversity of public land interests
from hunters and anglers to industry and ranchers to find similar solutions
- Lynn Tominaga is a water consultant for the Idaho Farm Bureau
and North Snake Ground Water District and is the executive director
of the Idaho Groundwater Appropriators Association and Idaho Irrigation
Pumpers Association. Tominaga also serves as the President for the Idaho
Food Producers Board and owns the Idaho Water Policy Group. He is a
former Idaho state senator.
- John Tracy is Executive Director of the Center for Watersheds
and Environmental Sustainability at the Desert Research Institute in
Reno, NV. His background is in the development of decision support tools
for integrated watershed assessment and planning activities. Currently
he is focusing his research efforts on developing more functional indicators
of sustainable socio-environmental practices within western watersheds
and how these indicators can be used to develop more robust watershed
planning and management approaches.
- Brian Wallace is the chairman for the Washoe Tribe of Nevada.
- Wendy Wilson is an organizational development consultant with
the nonprofit group River Network. She was the founding executive director
of a large river protection groupIdaho Rivers Unitedfrom
1989 until 1999. She was a founding board member of the Save Our Wild
Salmon Coalition and the Columbia and Snake Rivers Campaign to remove
the four lower Snake River dams in Eastern Washington and is an experienced
lobbyist and spokesperson for environmental causes.
In-Stream flow: Wyoming segment
- Laurie Goodman, Trout Unlimited, Jackson, Wyoming
- Patrick Tyrrell, Wyoming State Engineer
- Senator Cale Case, State Representative, Wyoming
- Dan Budd, Rancher, Big Piney, Wyoming
- Tom Annear, Instream Flow supervisor, Wyoming Game & Fish Department,
- Mayor Rose Skinner, Pinedale, Wyoming
Tribal Water Rights: Snake River (ID) segment
- Allen Pinkham, Nez Perce Tribe
- Clive Strong, Natural Resources Chief, Attorney General's Office
- Doug Nash, attorney
- John Simpson, Attorney for Idaho Water Users Association
Urban Growth: Truckee River (NV) segment
- Lori Williams, Director of Operations for the Truckee Meadows Water
- Jack Robb, Coordinator of Field Services for the Truckee Meadows
- Emily Braswell, Executive Director of the Truckee Meadows Regional
- Bob Jones, Executive Officer of The Builder’s Association of Northern
- Bob Firth, Water rights consultant
- John Tracy, Executive Director for the Center for Watershed Environmental
Sustainability and Associate Research Professor for the Division of
Hydrology Sciences for the Desert Research Institute