Snake River Basin Adjudication, Nez Perce Tribe Water Rights

Attorney: Steven C. Moore

NARF represented the Nez Perce Tribe in Idaho in its water rights claims in the Snake River Basin Adjudication (SRBA)—both litigation and settlement phases—for more than 16 years. The Final Unified Decree, which closed the SRBA adjudication and approved all water rights set forth in the related agreement, was signed on August 25, 2014.

The SRBA was the legal inventory of about 150,000 water rights in the Snake River basin and all of its tributaries, including areas in 38 of Idaho’s 44 counties. In 2004, Congress enacted, and the President signed, the Snake River Settlement Act to implement the settlement of all water rights claims and authorize federal funding. Subsequently, NARF worked with the Tribe to secure final approval of the settlement by the state water court and to participate in the federal appropriations process.

NARF then represented the Tribe in negotiations with the United States, the State, and private water interests to draft the Final Unified Decree, which was the capstone document closing the SRBA adjudication. This process included numerous drafts of the Final Unified Decree with an eye toward resolving all objections to the text.

The full text of the Final Unified Decree is available at the National Indian Law Library website.

Read More: Protection of Tribal Natural Resources