As a result of collaborative efforts of Vail Associates (“VA”), the Colorado Water Trust, the U.S. Forest Service (“USFS”), and the Western Land Group, VA acquired property along Hat Creek (a tributary of upper Brush Creek in Eagle County), from the Conservation Fund as part of a land exchange between VA and the USFS. The property included an irrigation water right decreed in 1917 to the Hat Creek Ditch for 2 cubic feet per second that historically irrigated about 22 acres (the “Hat Creek Right”) and a number of conditional (read: not perfected) water rights on Hat Creek.
Under the land exchange, VA conveyed the Hat Creek property to the USFS, but did not include the water rights in the transaction. Instead, at the USFS’s request, VA conveyed the Hat Creek water right and the other conditional water rights associated with the property to CWT. CWT donated the Hat Creek Right to the CWCB to enhance the only other water right on Hat Creek, which is a junior CWCB instream flow right, and it abandoned all of the conditional rights on Hat Creek as part of the transaction.