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Gillneting Trout

This letter is in response to the heavy lobbying efforts of County Commissioners in Flathead, Lake and Missoula counties by Compact Commission members who are trying and to make it look like the majority of the people who surround the Reservation support the proposed Compact.  They don’t.  

The following legislators from western Montana are just some of the legislators who do not support the proposed CSKT Compact.  These are some of the major issues:     

The proposed Compact, 1200 pages and House Bill 629, 130 pages were written by hydrologists and lawyers. Legislators and the general population have not been provided the legal, environmental, regulatory, or economic assessments to reveal the impacts of this Compact on private water rights, private property values, future growth, and economic development. Without impact studies no legislator in good conscience could pass a document of this magnitude with a $55 million state contribution.   

      The Hell Gate Treaty for the Confederated Salish Kootenai Tribes secured the “right to take fish in common with the citizens of the Territory”, not a water right, otherwise a group of Montana citizens could get a water right to protect their favorite place to fish. The Tribes’ right is in common with the citizens of the Territory. Off-reservation claims do not meet the definition of a federal reserved water right which by law is restricted to reservation land. No off reservation water rights have been previously transferred in a compact or case law. The State of Montana manages river and stream flows, fish and wildlife and is accountable to Montana citizens and the state legislature (which both include tribal members). Montana has the water management role via the Federal and State constitutions.  These functions cannot be legally delegated to the Federal Government or the Tribe. 

     The purpose of the federal reserved water rights compact is to quantify (justify) the amount of water needed to meet the purposes of the Reservation.  The thousands of water right abstracts (made out to the Federal government and the CSKT) in the proposed Compact do not justify anything because they are not tied to a purpose of the Reservation such as irrigating additional acres of land.  When the amount of water needed is quantified as required, there is enough water in the Flathead Basin to meet those needs without taking water from people who grow our food.  The Flathead Irrigation Project needs more water, not less, plus water needs to be added to meet future development on the Reservation. 

We cannot support the current proposed CSKT Compact because of these major issues.  


Representatives Mark Blasdel, Randy Brodehl, Carl Glimm, Pat Ingraham, Keith Regier,

Jerry O’Neil, Nancy Ballance  

Senators Verdell Jackson, Dee Brown, Jennifer Fielder, Jon Sonju