Indian Water Rights, Federal Reserved Rights, ESA, and Bureau of Reclamation Projects: Conflict & Settlement


Live Broadcast on March 1, 2017

For the last thirty years, the federal government has had to resolve competing claims for water in the western United States due to the creation of the Reclamation program and the intersection of Tribal reserved rights, federal reserved rights and the ESA. Even when tribal rights are not at issue, resolution of conflicts over federal reserved rights can help inform tribal water settlements. This course will describe the genesis of the conflict, walk through examples of the conflict, and discuss where settlements have worked and what made them successful.

Key topics to be discussed:

  • Tribal Water Rights
  • Federal Reserved Rights and the issue of natural versus artificial hydrographs
  • Bureau of Reclamation Projects
  • The ESA and Reclamation
  • ESA and Tribal Trust
  • Federal Reserved Rights and Reclamation – Examples of Conflict and Settlement

Date / Time: March 1, 2017

  • 1:00 pm – 3:00 pm Eastern
  • 12:00 pm – 2:00 pm Central
  • 11:00 am – 1:00 pm Mountain
  • 10:00 am – 12:00 pm Pacific

Choose a format:

  • Live Video Broadcast/Re-Broadcast: Watch Program “live” in real-time, must sign-in and watch program on date and time set above. May ask questions during presentation via chat box. Qualifies for “live” CLE credit.
  • On-Demand Video: Access CLE 24/7 via on-demand library and watch program anytime. Qualifies for self-study CLE credit. On-demand versions are made available 7 business days after the original recording date and are view-able for up to one year.



bezdekJohn Bezdek is a member of Dentons’ Public Policy and Regulation practice and Native American Law and Policy practice. He brings to clients more than 20 years’ experience establishing programs and policies that affect water rights quantification and water resources management in the western United States. Working at the forefront of water and tribal resources issues, John has worked closely with Interior Secretary Sally Jewell and has advised numerous Cabinet and sub-Cabinet-level officials, members of Congress, tribal governments and state and local officials on legal and policy considerations regarding water resources and hydropower development. John has also worked in a similar capacity advising former Interior secretaries Ken Salazar, Dirk Kempthorne, Gale Norton and Bruce Babbitt on water issues.

John’s most recent experience was as counselor to the deputy secretary at the Interior Department, where he served as a key member of the water policy team in developing strategies to address the effects of drought and climate change, while also leading several multi-party negotiations involving complex water issues. In this capacity, he worked directly with Congress and with stakeholders on developing potential drought legislation.

John has appeared before congressional committees in both the Senate and House, tribal governments and state and local regulatory agencies. Prior to his time as counselor, he was assistant solicitor for Water and Power Resources, where he oversaw all legal matters related to the administration and operation of Bureau of Reclamation projects and programs.

In addition to his unique understanding of how reclamation law intersects with other environmental regulations governing water projects, such as the Endangered Species Act (ESA), John has been at the forefront of developing innovative strategies for the financing of major water resources projects. He also served as the deputy director of the Interior secretary’s Indian Water Rights Office under Secretary Kempthorne, in which capacity John directed the efforts of 21 negotiating teams and worked directly with tribal governments, stakeholders and members of Congress on settling and advancing Indian water settlements.

CLE Accreditation:
mylawCLE seeks approval in all states except VA.

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CLE 2.00 – MN
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Accreditation Policy
myLawCLE will seek credit where attending attorneys are primarily licensed for all of its live webinars and live teleconferences, except in states which allow for reciprocity (see reciprocity section below). Credit for CLE in a self-study format is sought for in most states; however, some states do not allow for CLE credit to be earned in a self-study format (see the self-study section below). Many states typically decide whether a program qualifies for MCLE credit in their jurisdiction 4-8 weeks after the program application is submitted. For many live events, credit approval is not received prior to the program. Credit hours granted are subject to approval from each state.

Additionally, some states allow for credit to be granted on a 1:1 reciprocal basis for courses approved in another mandatory CLE jurisdiction state. This is known as a reciprocity provision and includes the following states: AK, AR, CO, FL, ME, MT, ND, NH, NJ, NY, PR, and SD. myLawCLE does not seek direct accreditation of live webinars or teleconferences in these states.

On-demand CLE
myLawCLE will seek on-demand approval in all states except Virginia and Arkansas (outside reciprocal provisions stated above).

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myLawCLE offers a program and credit approval guarantee. If a registered attendee is unhappy with a CLE program they have attended, myLawCLE will offer that attended access to another complimentary CLE or a full refund in order to insure the attendeeís satisfaction.

Additionally, on all online CLE programs application for approval will be made in all states where attending attorneys are primarily licensed in. If a registered attorney does not receive credit from their state for any reason, a full refund will be granted.

Section I. Tribal Water Rights
a) Winters Doctrine and off-reservation claims
b) Practicable Irrigable Acreage
c) Fisheries Protection and Propagation

Section II. Federal Reserved Rights and the issue of natural versus artificial hydrographs

Section III. Bureau of Reclamation Projects
a) History of Reclamation Laws
b) Development of Reclamation Projects across the west
c) Reclamation in the 21st Century

Section IV. The ESA and Reclamation
a) Discretion or not
b) Selected ESA Case Studies

Section V. ESA and Tribal Trust
a) Klamath Project
b) Animas-LaPlata

Section VI. Federal Reserved Rights and Reclamation – Examples of Conflict and Settlement

Section VII. Lessons Learned/Final Thoughts