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CSKT Water Rights Negotiations on Talk Back

water rights
Photo courtesy of Lars Pougmann/Flickr

Today on Talk Back (Nov. 21 we will be discussing the water rights negotiations that are currently going on between the Confederated Salish Kootenai Tribes, the State of Montana and the Federal Government.

These negotiations have been going on for over a decade, but the commission tasked with completing a compact is expected to forward their results to the state legislature in 2013. They will be cutting it pretty close, as the commissions appointment sunsets on July 1 of 2013.

The difficulty of getting the compact finalized is enormous. For starters, it must be agreed upon by not only the Montana State Legislature, but also by the U.S. Congress.

Making the topic even more complicated is the fact that the Flathead Reservation is significantly different than all of the other reservations in Montana. For example, a majority of those that live on the reservation are not members of a tribe, and the treaty creating the reservation granted extra hunting and fishing privileges that other agreements did not. Those fishing privileges have bearing when it comes to water rights and the issue of access.

The agreement will effect 11 Montana counties, including Missoula for the foreseeable future. Although water rights are extremely complicated it is worth investigating as they will likely impact almost everyone in Western Montana.

Today’s guest, Terry Backs has been traveling Western Montana to talk about the compact and the issues surrounding it. She along with others have produced a video and an entire website to get the public more concerned about the CSKT water rights negotiations.

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