MTPR

Flathead Reservation

Judge James Manley today ruled the portion of the water compact unconstitutional that protects members of a yet-to-be-created water compact board from being sued.
Flickr user Brad Smith (CC-BY-NC-2.0)

Some of Montana’s most influential agriculture organizations are lining up to support the Flathead water compact.

Yesterday the Montana Stockgrowers Association said it endorses the compact, which is a negotiated settlement between state and federal government and the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes. Right now, ownership of water on the reservation is disputed, and the compact is an attempt to codify who owns and controls the water without having to go to court.

The Flathead Joint Board of Control, the body that represents most irrigators on the Flathead Reservation, is sharply divided over the proposed water compact with the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes.

At a meeting Tuesday, a majority of the board decided to draft a resolution urging the state legislature to reject the proposal. Vice Chairman Jerry Laskody says most of the commissioners feel the state and the tribe have ignored the concerns of irrigators.

As a proposed water compact involving the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes moves closer to consideration in the Montana Legislature, we’re talking to people on all sides of the proposal.

Today we’ll hear from Mark Blasdel of Kalispell, who is leaving his post as Speaker of the House to take a seat in the state Senate. Blasdel opposed the compact that died in the last legislature, and he says he’ll oppose the latest version as well.

Confederated Salish and Kootenai tribal wildlife managers expect to have the updated, 5-year wolf management plan finalized by the end of January.

It focuses on wolves found on the Flathead reservation and is separate from the plan the state of Montana uses to manage other wolf populations.   

Summer surveys and observations suggest there are a minimum of 30 wolves on the reservation, but Tribal Wildlife Program Manager, Dale Becker, says it's difficult to pin-down a specific head count.

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