Case Summary Citation

United States v. Barthelmess Ranch Corp., 2016 MT 348, 386 Mont. 121, 386 P.3d 952.


Application of water to a beneficial use is the decisive element of a perfected water right in Montana. The BLM claimed rights to five reservoirs and one natural pothole under Montana law. The agency did not own livestock, but instead made the water available to grazing permittees. In United States v. Barthelmess Ranch Corp., the Montana Supreme Court affirmed the Montana Water Court’s holding that the BLM’s practice of making water available to others constituted a beneficial use and a perfected water right.



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