LDS Church Protests Vegas Water Deal

Given the remarkable role of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in western U.S. water history, it’s at least of symbolic importance that the church is among those who have filed protests against Las Vegas, Nevada’s proposal to build a pipeline to pump water from the Snake Valley to the growing gambling metropolis.

The Mormons pioneered water development in the arid western U.S., literally beginning irrigation on the first day they arrived in what is now Salt Lake City and playing a central role in the century of water development that followed.

Brandon Loomis in the Salt Lake Tribune explains the church’s concern about the Snake Valley Project:

The church protests cover wells proposed for Spring Valley, where it operates the Cleveland and Rogers ranches and three associated grazing permits.

“In January 2010, the church protested four proposed well locations out of concern that those specific wells could negatively impact water rights used in ranch operations,” church spokesman Scott Trotter said in a written statement.

The Mormon water story is especially interesting in the Little Colorado Valley, an outpost on the edge of 19th century Mormondom that was a particularly harsh and unforgiving environment (among many harsh and unforgiving environments that the Mormons successfully inhabited – that’s of what’s long fascinated me about the Mormon water story).

For more on how they did it, I recommend William Abruzzi’s work, nicely summarized here.

One Comment

  1. It’s hard to know what the significance of these stories are other than highlighting a highly competent Get Out the Protest waged by Las Vegas pipeline opponents. Once the NV Supreme Court threw all of the SNWA awards into limbo, everyone — led by Pat Mulroy — reapplied for water rights; reflexively, there were a wave of protests in case the reapplications emerge from legal limbo with standing.

    In the case of these renewed protests from a LDS-owned ranch, it’s hard to see this as a significant move by the LDS church. Rather, it’s a rote move to protect legal standing in a confusing lurch. If the church hierarchy eventually comes out against the Las Vegas pipe, as it did the MX missile project, then that will be significant and between Nevada and Utah we will be seeing the most interesting schism in the Kingdom of Deseret since the banning of polygamy. As it stands now, Marcus Faust (son of the late James Faust who until his death was so high up in the church that he was considered a living prophet, seer and revelator) is still steadfastly working for Pat Mulroy while running much of the Great Basin water map from his Washington law practice. To see where the Church is going, and where Utah is going, it’s useful to start with Faust.

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