Montana Public Radio

Flathead Water Rights Compact

Montana Republican U.S. Senate Candidate Matt Rosendale with his wife Jean at their home in Glendive, MT.
Corin Cates-Carney

A couple of weeks ago I went to Glendive, where Republican U.S. Senate Candidate Matt Rosendale lives.

He appeared at the local VFW post. About 40 people sat around folding tables eating pie and ice cream before the event, where he’ll repeat his strongest campaign theme: That he’ll be a faithful soldier for President Donald Trump.

A stream gauge on Willow Creek
USGS

A state legislative committee is asking Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke to work with Montana’s Congressional delegation to finalize a handful of water rights agreements.

Montana’s Water Policy Interim Committee says federal help in two key areas will lead Montana to having one of the most legally complete set of water rights agreements in the West.

From left: Kalispell Mayor Mark Johnson, state auditor Matt Rosendale and Dr. Albert Olszewski participate in the Flathead County Republican Senate forum in Kalispell on April 15.
Nicky Ouellet

Flathead County Republicans hosted their annual Lincoln Reagan Brunch at the county fairgrounds on Sunday.

Amid old-timey camp songs, against a backdrop of a swimming pool-sized American flag, half of the men hoping to win the Republican nomination to challenge Senator Jon Tester in the upcoming midterm primaries sat down for a candidate forum.

The Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes Water Compact narrowly passed the state Legislature in 2015 after more than a decade of negotiation. It settles water rights in and around the Flathead Reservation.
David Wiley (CC-BY-2)

Flathead irrigators are appealing to the State Supreme Court in a legal battle to overturn the state’s water compact with the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes.

The Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes Water Compact narrowly passed the state Legislature in 2015 after more than a decade of negotiation. It settles water rights in and around the Flathead Reservation.
David Wiley (CC-BY-2)

The controversial Flathead Water Compact with the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes remains largely intact following a judge’s ruling Wednesday that part of the water rights agreement is unconstitutional.

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)

A district court judge is declaring wins for both the Flathead Valley irrigators who sued to overturn the water compact with the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes, and the state of Montana that’s defending the compact after it passed the state legislature last year.

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)

The Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes were encouraged by the first U.S. Senate hearing of their water compact settlement with the State of Montana. Senator Jon Tester introduced the legislation to Congress last month.

CSKT Chairman Vernon Finley urged the U.S. Senate Committee on Indian Affairs to accept the compact.
U.S. Senate Indian Affairs Committee

At the first U.S. Senate hearing for the water compact with the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes today, federal officials said it looks expensive, and needs more analysis. Tribal leaders testified as well.

The water compact narrowly passed in Montana’s last legislative session and now it must be affirmed by the U.S. Congress.

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)

Senator Jon Tester Thursday introduced the Flathead water compact in Congress. This is Montana’s final tribal water rights agreement, and has proven the most contentious.

Without water, we perish. For 30 years, the Confederated Salish-Kootenai Tribes and the state of Montana have disagreed about tribal water right claims. But this year the legislature approved a comprehensive water rights agreement. Melissa Hornbein was one of the lead attorneys in the negotiations, working for Montana DNRC and the Montana Reserved Water Rights Commission. Hornbein talks with Brian Kahn about the legal and emotional challenges of negotiating the Flathead water compact.

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