19-02: Support for the CSKT Compact

WHEREAS, the 1979 Montana Legislature created the Reserved Water Rights Compact Commission (RWRCC), with five of the seven tribal compacts completed; and

WHEREAS, the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes (CSKT) water Compact (85-20-1901, MCA) is the result of more than two decades of negotiations to resolve the Tribes’ claims to reserved water rights within the state; and

WHEREAS, the CSKT Compact was prepared and negotiated between the State, CSKT, and United States with input from their legal and technical staffs familiar with both State and Federal water law; and

WHEREAS, multiple meetings were held at various locations within the state presenting information about the compact and receiving comment from irrigators, legislators, scientists, the public; and

WHEREAS, Montana’s 2015 Legislature ratified the Compact with bi-partisan support (85-20- 1901, MCA); and

WHEREAS, the Compact will make available new sources of water for commercial and irrigation use, implement irrigation project upgrades and protect historic irrigation use, allow for economic development under conditions of legal certainty on and off the Flathead Reservation, provide for in- stream flows and protect endangered species such as bull trout and facilitate the completion of the statewide general adjudication; and

WHEREAS, without the Compact, 10,109 non-Compact claims would have to be adjudicated in contrast to the comparatively minimal Compact rights consisting of 211 on-Reservation water rights, 10 off-reservation water rights and co-ownership with Montana Dept. of Fish, Wildlife and Parks in 87 existing instream flow, in-lake and storage rights.

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED: that the Montana Association of Conservation Districts notify our Congressional Senators and Representative that MACD requests their support to secure federal ratification of the CSKT Compact, thereby providing protection for State-based water users on and off the Reservation, making water available for future development and providing certainty for all parties.