Somach Simmons and Dunn, Attorneys at Law Somach Simmons & Dunn | Attorneys at Law



  • University of Colorado School of Law/Business School (J.D., 1991, M.B.A, 1991)
  • University of Denver (B.S.B.A, 1984)


  • Colorado
  • Wyoming
  • Arizona

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Ramsey L. Kropf
LinkedIn Bio

For over two decades, Ramsey Kropf has impacted the status and outcome of some of the West’s most challenging water issues. Her experience is built on a unique combination of high-level legal work in both the private and public sectors where she has successfully handled cases with far-reaching, national implications.

A shareholder in Somach Simmons & Dunn’s Boulder, Colorado office, Ramsey joined the firm in 2017 after completing an appointment as the Deputy Solicitor in the Water Resources Division of the U.S. Department of the Interior in Washington, D.C. She currently mediates Indian water right settlements and other Reclamation matters in New Mexico and California, represents a variety of clients in the Colorado River Basin, along with work in Oregon’s Klamath Basin, Washington State, and other Colorado, regional, and interstate water matters.

At Interior, she was the principal advisor to the Solicitor for all water resources issues, including Indian water rights settlements and litigation, reclamation law, and water rights for the National Park Service. In her post, she was also Counsel to the Secretary, Secretariat offices, Bureaus, and all Departmental officials regarding water law. Key matters she worked on included the Colorado River drought contingency planning negotiations, New Mexico’s Middle Rio Grande issues including a settlement between the Isleta Pueblo, the Middle Rio Grande Conservancy District and the Bureau of Reclamation, assisting Reclamation and the Fish & Wildlife Service to implement a cooperative biological opinion, and with numerous Indian water settlements and federal water settlements, including those for both Arches and Bryce National Parks.

An accomplished background in the private sector bolsters her public sector legal work, where she spent 17 years with the Patrick Miller Kropf Noto law firm based in Aspen, Colorado. Among her clients were municipalities, major resort developments and energy companies, and work as a judicial officer — serving as Special Master in Wyoming’s general stream adjudication for 19 years. She is admitted to practice law in Colorado, Arizona, and Wyoming as well as the Federal District Court, Colorado, and the United States Supreme Court.  She has also served as Chair of the Water Resources Committee of the American Bar Association.

Throughout her career, her work has been bolstered by a keen understanding of all the varying sides of water law issues. Whether working for a developer to satisfy a municipal requirement for an adequate water supply, or working with public entities whose role is to plan for future water supply, she understands the varying perspectives of the West’s most pressing water supply and water rights challenges.

Ramsey grew up ski racing in Colorado’s Rocky Mountains, and continues to count powder days at ski resorts and by backcountry skiing in remote mountain areas — including stops at Tenth Mountain Huts.

Representative Matters

Indian Water Rights Settlement Work. Ramsey serves as the mediator in New Mexico for the parties in the Rio San Jose, the Rio Chama, and the Rio Santa Cruz Basins. This work entails working with the local Indian Pueblos and Native American tribe in the basin, along with acequia associations (local irrigation groups), mining interests, local municipalities, the State of New Mexico and the United States. She also mediates an ongoing Indian water rights settlement effort in California. Indian water rights settlements are the most effective and comprehensive way to resolve federal reserved rights claims and to create new productive water management and relationships for arid watersheds.

Colorado River Work. The Colorado River provides the water supplies to a wide variety of users in seven basin states, and operations are actively managed given the 19-year  drought in the basin. Ramsey works closely with clients to monitor and strategically engage in Colorado River activities, basin-wide, and with a focus in the Roaring Fork River Valley.

Development and Water. The west is undergoing continued growth and change, while also being on the front lines of climate change in arid country. Working with developers to assess, improve and increase their legal water supplies to support development is a key service to clients. This work has included transactional work in Colorado’s designated groundwater basins and the Denver Basin, as well as throughout the state. Ramsey also has significant experience with mountain resort water providers and municipalities, and with managing water court litigation in Colorado’s water courts.

Reclamation Water Users. With her experience in the federal government and particularly with the Bureau of Reclamation, Ramsey supports clients who rely upon Reclamation water contracts and facilities in their legal needs, including the Sacramento County Water Agency for its WIIN Act Repayment contracts, the Friant Water Authority, and the Klamath Project in Oregon.

Representative Cases Include:

  • In re The General Adjudication of All Rights to Use Water in the Big Horn River System and All Other Sources, Consolidated Case Nos. 77-4993, 86-0012, Washakie County, Wyoming (Special Master)(Final Decree entered September 2014)
  • Colorado Water Court Decrees for Town of Gypsum, for augmentation, due diligence for Town’s water supply (1998-2014)
  • Colorado Water Court Applications for Caerus Oil and Gas, Case Nos. 07CW239, 07CW244, 07CW245, 07CW246
  • Colorado Water Court Applications for Carruth Sutton Corp. and Sutton Western Corp. Real Estate Development in Garfield County, Colorado
  • In re the General Adjudication of all Rights to use Water In the Gila River System and Source, Arizona (Staff Attorney to Special Master, 1992-1994))
  • In re the General Adjudication of all Rights to use Water In the Little Colorado River System and Source, Arizona (Staff Attorney to Special Master, 1992-1994)

Insights and Activities

  • Assistant Managing Shareholder, Somach Simmons & Dunn, 2021-2022
  • Honoree, 5280 Magazine Top Lawyers, Water Law, 2021, 2022
  • Trustee, Rocky Mountain Mineral Law Foundation, Fall 2021-present
  • Certificate of Completion, Mediating Disputes, Program on Negotiation at Harvard Law School, a 40-hour training course completed October 2021
  • Panelist, Western Litigation Update, Family Farm Alliance, Feb. 2020
  • Chair, Water Section, Rocky Mountain Mineral Law Foundation 65th Annual Institute, Monterey, CA, July 17-20, 2019
  • Adjunct Professor, Water Resources, University of Colorado School of Law, Spring 2019
  • Author/Speaker, Klamath Takings Case and Implications for Tribal Treaty Rights, Key Recent Cases Relating to Tribal Water Rights, Law Seminars International, Tribal Water in the Northwest, Seattle, WA, July 19, 2018
  • Speaker, Isn’t That My Water?  Klamath Takings Case, Idaho Water Users Association, Water Law and Resource Issues Seminar, Sun Valley, ID, June 11, 2018
  • Speaker, US Federal Court of Claims and State Water Law; Farmers, Fish and Tribes, Colorado Water Law Conference, CLE International, Snowmass, CO, June 8, 2018
  • Speaker, Colorado River Update, Boulder Bar Association Luncheon, Boulder, CO, October 26, 2017
  • Author/Speaker, Water Section, Drought Contingency Planning – An Ounce of Prevention: Does Proactive Action in the Colorado River Basin Equal a Pound of Cure?, 63rd Annual Rocky Mountain Mineral Law Foundation Institute, Santa Fe, NM, July 2017

Recent Articles

Bureau of Reclamation Updates Its Approach to ESA Section 7 Consultations for Klamath Project Operations, Applying Recent Legal Authorities and New Solicitor Guidance

The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation (Reclamation) released three documents related to its consultation obligations under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) for its operation of the Klamath Project (Project) in south-central ... Read More

Colorado River Basin States Request a Better Forum to Resolve Concerns with Lake Powell Pipeline

In Utah, there is a significant effort underway to build a water delivery pipeline from Lake Powell to transport part of Utah’s Colorado River entitlement to Utah’s St. George area.  ... Read More

U.S. Supreme Court Affirms Creek Reservation Status, Upholding Treaty Obligations and Recognizing Indian Country for Jurisdictional Purposes

The latest Supreme Court opinion on Indian law could have implications for jurisdiction over water rights administration and other natural resources in the West.  In the 5-4 decision McGirt v. ... Read More

Major Bill on Indian Water Rights Settlements Moves to House

On Monday, June 15, the U.S. House of Representatives received the newly-minted Indian Water Rights Settlement Extension Act, introduced in the U.S. Senate and which passed that chamber earlier this ... Read More


  • University of Colorado School of Law/Business School (J.D., 1991, M.B.A, 1991)
  • University of Denver (B.S.B.A, 1984)


  • Colorado
  • Wyoming
  • Arizona

Firm News