2016 MACD Resolutions

2016 Montana Association of Conservation District Resolutions

 

RESOLUTION 16-1

Support for Conservation District Water Reservations

 

WHEREAS, the Water Reservations held by Conservation Districts continue to be in the Public Interest for all Montana citizens as originally determined by the Board of Natural Resources and Conservation when they were granted.

 

WHEREAS, the amounts are still justified, the need still exists and the purpose still remains valid for all of the Conservation District Water Reservations as originally granted by the Board of Natural Resources and Conservation

 

WHEREAS, Conservation District Water Reservations continue to provide for the facilitation of future agricultural development thus agricultural growth in Montana. This fosters economic growth which contributes to Montana’s economic well-being and, therefore, is in the Public Interest.

 

WHEREAS, Conservation District Water Reservations continue to provide a means to assure the future availability of water for development in Montana in light of downstream states competing interests. It is in the Public Interest that future opportunities for use of water in Montana not be foregone only because downstream states claims arise before conditions are right for development in Montana. It is in the Public Interest to provide this long-term planning for water use that District Reservations provide.

 

WHEREAS, Conservation District Water Reservations continue to be in the Public Interest through the environmental protection and enhancement they provide in Montana. Irrigated agricultural land protects and provides habitat for various species of wildlife, both upland & riparian, associated with areas along Montana’s rivers and streams.

 

WHEREAS, Conservation District Water Reservations continue to be in the Public Interest in that they help maintain Montana’s rural lifestyle which provides an attractive place to live or visit. Many tourists’ dollars can be traced to their desire to see and experience Montana’s ranch and farm life.

 

WHEREAS, Legislative and constitutional support and authority for Agricultural Water Reservations held by Conservation Districts are stated in Montana Statutes MCA 85-2-316 and 85-2-605. The legislature has determined that the Public Interest is best served by providing for future agricultural water development through Conservation District Water Reservations.

 

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that the Montana Association of Conservation Districts will oppose any efforts to revoke or reduce the flow rates and volumes of any and all Water Reservations held by Conservation Districts.

 

Submitted by: Richland Conservation District

Area Meeting Action: Passed Area 2

MACD Committee Assignment: Water

General Session Action: Passed

 

RESOLUTION 16-2

Supporting Infrastructure

Whereas, MCA 76-156-102 which is the Montana Association of Conservation Districts’ Declaration of policy, states “It is hereby declared to be the policy of the legislature to provide for the conservation of soil and soil resources of this state, for the control and prevention of soil erosion, for the prevention of floodwater and sediment damages, and for furthering the conservation, development, utilization, and disposal of water and thereby to preserve natural resources, control floods, prevent impairment of dams and reservoirs, preserve wildlife, protect the tax base, protect public lands, and protect and promote thehealth, safety, and general welfare of the people of the state.”

Whereas, irrigation infrastructure, such as dams and reservoirs, is vital to economies within conservation districts,

Whereas, cooperation between Federal, state, and local governments are critical in communication and coordination

Therefore be it resolved, that MACD be directed to coordinate with local conservation districts on state, federal and all other levels to address problems, concerns and potential solutions to fund irrigation structures in need of repair, that are vital to local economies, wildlife, recreationalists, municipalities and agriculture.

Submitted by: Phillips Conservation District

Area Meeting Action: Passed Area 3

MACD Committee Assignment: Soil and Land Use

General Session Action: Passed

 

RESOLUTION 16 – 3

Retaining the CBMPA Legislation

 

WHEREAS, coal bed strata contain the Coal Bed Methane (CBM) resource which is distributed across several Conservation Districts in Montana. While current CBM activity in Montana is currently limited due to the methane market, impacts from past actions continue, and the potential remains for future resource extraction.

WHEREAS, the Coal Bed Methane Protection Act (§ 76-15-901 through § 76-15-905, MCA), of 2000 established the Coal Bed Methane Protection Program (“Program”) for the purpose of compensating private landowners and water right holders for certain damages that are attributable to the development and/or production of coal bed methane [§ 76-15-902(5) MCA].

WHEREAS, the Act does not apply to activities outside of coal areas such as conventional oil and gas.

WHEREAS, the Act assigns administrative authority over the Program to local Conservation Districts that have coal beds within their exterior boundary or whose water sources (ground or surface), land values, or agricultural production may be adversely affected by the extraction and/or development of coal bed methane, See § 76-15-901(1), MCA. Conservation Districts meeting these criteria are directed to establish procedures for evaluating claims for compensation submitted by a private landowner or a water right holder. Conservation Districts have authority to approve or deny claims for compensation and also to receive compensation for their administrative expenses (10%) under the Program. Compensation comes from the Coal Bed Methane Protection Account (“Account’), which is administered by the Department of Natural Resources and Conservation (“DNRC”).

WHEREAS, the Act assigns DNRC the responsibility of administering the funds in the Account for use by the Conservation Districts. See § 76-15-904(6), MCA. DNRC is also responsible for approval of Conservation District-established procedures for evaluating claims for compensation under the Act. In the interest of encouraging a consistent approach among Conservation Districts administering the Act, the Coal Bed Methane Protection Act Committee (“Committee”), consisting of representatives from the Big Horn, Custer, Carbon, Carter, Powder River, Rosebud, Treasure, Wibaux, Garfield, Gallatin, Yellowstone and Prairie Conservation Districts, has prepared with approval by DNRC the procedures, guidelines, and claim forms. The DNRC’s role is limited to approval of the Conservation District’s rules and administration of funds in the Account. Other than review of rules and procedures, the DNRC has no review authority over the Conservation District’s decisions or actions implementing the Act.

WHEREAS, under the Coal Bed Methane Protection Act (§ 76-15-905 through § 76-15-905, MCA), application for Compensation for Loss of Groundwater, Surface Water or Damage to Land or Value may be made for private lands (effective after July 1, 2011).

WHEREAS, The Powder River Conservation District (PRCD) and DNRC approved four landowner claims in FY2015 which are the first approved under the DNRC-funded program. These four claims ($83,000) and PRCD overhead ($8,000) total approximately $ 91,000. The approved claims have included diminished well water for livestock and homes. The funds reimbursed two landowners for expenses to maintain water well production and another two producers to drill new wells to replace declining flow attributed to CBM. An additional FY2016 claim is pending. The claim locations are in Montana in the vicinity of the Powder River near the Wyoming / Montana state line.

WHEREAS, the approved CBMPP claims were completed after the FY2015 Legislative Session, and were previously unavailable for consideration in funding allocations.

WHEREAS, methane gas in drinking water has also increased in some wells. The presence of methane gas in drinking water, as confirmed by laboratory tests, has also reduced water well flow, and gas levels can be unsafe in some situations. The methane gas bubbles are visible in water from these taps.

WHERAS, groundwater may take a decade to be replenished and the effects from CBM may be present decades after drilling has occurred.

WHEREAS, shut-in CBM wells with depressed aquifer water levels may, in the absence of active pumping to extract methane, continue to be a source of gas that moves upslope in rock strata to adjacent producer water wells.

WHEREAS, CBM resources remain available for future extraction and there is a potential for future activities to affect private landowners, and therefore a potential for more claims.

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the Montana Association of Conservation Districts work with DNRC and the state legislature to assure that the Coal Bed Methane Protection Act is retained as state law in order to maintain the future option of providing a mechanism to reimburse landowners with approved claims.

Submitted by: Approved by Treasure County Conservation District

Area Meeting Action: Passed Area 4

MACD Committee Assignment: Soil and Land Use

General Session Action: Passed

 

RESOLUTION 16 – 4

Continued Funding for CBMPA Program

WHEREAS, Treasure County Conservation Districts acts as the fiscal agent for the Coal Bed Methane Protection Act Committee (“Committee”), a group of landowners and producers, representatives of state and federal agencies, and representatives of other grassroots organizations entrusted by the State of Montana to distribute funds under (MCA 76-15-905).

WHEREAS, the State of Montana further declares (MCA 76-15-901 through 76-15-904) that the purpose of this committee is to establish a long-term CBM protection account and a coal bed methane protection program for the purpose of compensating private landowners and water right holders for damage to soil and crop and to water quality and availability that is attributable to the development of coal bed methane.

WHEREAS, the CBMPA Committee has worked extensively to create baseline data for producers and water users affected by coal bed methane development.

WHEREAS, the Coal Bed Methane Protection Act (§ 76-15-901 through § 76-15-905, MCA) of 2000 established the Coal Bed Methane Protection Program (“Program”) for the purpose of compensating private landowners and water right holders for certain damages that are attributable to the development and/or production of coal bed methane [§ 76-15-902(5) MCA].

WHEREAS, the Act does not apply to activities outside of coal areas such as conventional oil and gas.

WHEREAS, the Act assigns administrative authority over the Program to local Conservation Districts that have coal beds within their exterior boundary or whose water sources (ground or surface), land values, or agricultural production may be adversely affected by the extraction and/or development of coal bed methane. See § 76-15-901(1), MCA. Conservation Districts meeting these criteria are directed to establish procedures for evaluating claims for compensation submitted by a private landowner or a water right holder. Conservation Districts have authority to approve or deny claims for compensation and also to receive compensation for their administrative expenses under the Program. Compensation comes from the Coal Bed Methane Protection Account (“Account’), which is administered by the Department of Natural Resources and Conservation (“DNRC”).

WHEREAS, the Act assigns DNRC the responsibility to administer the funds in the Account for use by the Conservation Districts. See § 76-15-904(6), MCA. DNRC is also responsible for approval of Conservation District-established procedures for evaluating claims for compensation under the Act. In the interest of encouraging a consistent approach among Conservation District administering the Act, the Coal Bed Methane Protection Act Committee (“Committee”), consisting of representatives from the Big Horn, Custer, Carbon, Carter, Powder River, Rosebud, Treasure, Wibaux, Garfield, Gallatin, Yellowstone and Prairie Conservation Districts, has prepared with approval by DNRC the procedures, guidelines, and claim forms. The DNRC’s role is limited to approval of the Conservation District’s rules and administration of funds in the Account. Other than review of rules and procedures, the DNRC has no review authority over the Conservation District’s decisions or actions implementing the Act.

WHEREAS, under the Coal Bed Methane Protection Act (§ 76-15-905 through § 76-15-905, MCA), application for Compensation for Loss of Groundwater, Surface Water or Damage to Land or Value may be made for private lands (effective after July 1, 2011.

WHEREAS, The Powder River Conservation District (PRCD) and DNRC approved four landowner claims in FY2015 which are the first approved under the DNRC-funded program. These four claims ($83,000) and PRCD overhead ($8,000) total approximately $ 91,000. The approved claims have included diminished well water for livestock and homes. The funds reimbursed two landowners for expenses to maintain water well production and another two producers to drill new wells to replace declining flow attributed to CBM. An additional FY2016 claim is pending. The claim locations are in Montana in the vicinity of the Powder River near the Wyoming / Montana state line.

WHEREAS, the approved CBMPP claims were completed after the FY2015 Legislative Session, and were previously unavailable for consideration in funding allocations.

WHEREAS, methane gas in drinking water has also increased in some wells. The presence of methane gas in drinking water, as confirmed by laboratory tests, has also reduced water well flow, and gas levels can be unsafe in some situations. The methane gas bubbles are visible in water from these taps.

WHEREAS, CBM resources remain available for future use and there is a potential for future activities to affect private landowners, and therefore a potential for more claims.

WHEREAS, approved claims have been for diminished water for livestock and homes, and additional claims are pending in FY2016.

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the Montana Association of Conservation Districts approach the next Montana Legislature to request continued funding for the CBMPP for program management, water sampling, and reimbursement to landowners for approved claims.

Submitted by: Treasure County Conservation District

Area Meeting Action: Passed Area 4

MACD Committee Assignment: Soil and Land Use

General Session Action: Passed

 

RESOLUTION 16 – 5

Pollinator Outreach and Education

WHEREAS Pollinators, both native and domestic, are key to the continued productivity of many agricultural crops as well as the health and beauty of our landscapes;

WHEREAS Healthy pollinator habitat may also enhance soil health and fertility, improve water quality, control agricultural pests and support wildlife populations

WHEREAS Pollinator populations have declined because of disease, parasites, exposure to pesticides and herbicides, and degradation of food sources; and

WHEREAS human activity is able to mitigate these stresses by enhancing the number and diversity of flowering plants in our environment;

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that NACD and MACD continue their support of Pollinator projects, through

–Educational and outreach materials with specific emphasis on the

relationship between pollinators and agriculture;

–Funding for habitat establishment, monitoring, and restoration;

–Development of ideas and templates for pollinator projects;

THEREFORE, BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that MACD encourage collaboration with other agencies and organizations to further develop local and regional plans for pollinator habitat enhancement; and

THEREFORE BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that MACD encourages individual Conservation Districts to include pollinator projects in their annual goal setting.

Submitted by: Lake County Conservation District

Area Meeting Action: Passed Area 5

MACD Committee Assignment: Education

General Session Action: Passed