U.S. Senator Steve Daines (R – MT) has introduced federal legislation, cosponsored by U.S. Senator Jon Tester (D - MT), that ratifies the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes water compact, settles other long standing legal claims between the tribe and the federal government, provides federal funding for the reconstruction of the Flathead Irrigation Project, and transfers responsibility for the operation of the National Bison Range from the federal government to the Tribes.
The CSKT water compact is a negotiated agreement between the state of Montana, the federal government, and the CSKT. This agreement permanently settles thousands of water claims that have their origin in the required quantification of the tribes’ reserved water rights. Failure to ratify the compact would result in the need to litigate all of these claims in Montana Water Court.
“The Montana Farm Bureau Federation and its members support the CSKT water compact passed by the Montana legislature in 2015,” said MFBF Executive Director John Youngberg. “This compact eliminates the need to individually litigate thousands of water rights claims, provides Flathead irrigators with a quantity of water that matches their historical usage, frees cities and other non-agricultural users from calls in drought years, and provides the CSKT with a fair settlement of their reserved water rights claims. Our members thank Senator Daines and Senator Tester for this bipartisan effort in bringing legislation to enact the negotiated compact and avoid needless litigation. We hope that this legislation will move quickly through both houses of the U.S. Congress so that our members can enjoy the economic certainty provided by the final settlement of these outstanding claims.”