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Montana politics, elections and legislative news

CSKT Water Rights Settlement Gets Final Approval

The U.S. Interior Secretary has signed the long-awaited water-rights settlement with the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes.

Under the deal, the tribes relinquished thousands of off-reservation water-rights claims in exchange for a nearly $2 billion trust to settle claims and improve the Flathead Irrigation Project.

Congress passed the Montana Water Rights Protection Act in 2020 in a package that also included the transfer of the National Bison Range to the tribes.

Montana lawmakers approved the compact in 2015.

CSKT Chairwoman Shelly Fyant says the tribes negotiated in good faith for years to reach this settlement.

“It’s quite a monumental day. I’m still having trouble actually believing it. It’s been a long time coming.”

A Flathead Reservation Water Management Board will be established to manage all aspects of water use within the reservation.

Corin Cates-Carney manages MTPR’s daily and long-term news projects. After spending more than five years living and reporting across Western and Central Montana, he became news director in early 2020.
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