Why is it that one huge source of contention in the current Reserved Water Rights Compact negotiation for the Flathead reservation is what’s known as “in-stream flows” for fisheries? What fisheries? This wasn’t, isn’t and never will be an Aquarium.
Neither the Hellgate Treaty of 1855, nor any document since, has established the PURPOSE of this reservation as a Federally Reserved Fishery. Fishing is a sport or hobby (and occasionally, a source of food), not a vocation – then or now; and certainly, not a necessity of life – as long as Safeway and Costco continue to provide fish in their stores. “Agriculture” is another subject, and between crops and cattle, we’re now talking the intended purpose of this “Federally Reserved Trust Land” from the Public domain. Fishing, on and off the reservation, was never the intended purpose or the primary activity related to this loosely defined piece of real estate.
The Treaty established, built and funded (at taxpayer expense) schools for agriculture and industry; NOT Fish Hatchery’s. When is someone who can read and understand simple English actually going to read the treaty; it’s not that complicated. How is it, that after 30+ years, no one in the Federal Government, as trustee, (or the CSKT organization) seems motivated or capable of complying with the restated law to quantify the water that should be held in reserve to support the agricultural and domestic use of water within the reservation boundaries still held in trust as reserved land?
Why do you suppose the current Water Compact Proposal has seen fit to “quantify” the non-reservation water requirement (but won’t quantify the Rez needs, as intended and directed by the Supreme Court) and is planning to severely limit and ration the water that supports the two vital economies’ of Western Montana: Agriculture and Cattle (effectively driving them out of existence)? Just asking, because it makes no rational sense to me to put out of business, that which drives the economy of the State, and helps fill its coffers, unless there’s an ulterior motive not stated and withheld from public purvey.
And, for what earthly reason would this reservation need to control the off-reservation water for mystical “in-stream flows” that don’t come anywhere near the reservation; potentially denying water to some ~350,000 Montana residents and not just the 28,000 living on the Rez? Want to venture a guess?
Want to help stop this unconstitutional train wreck? Call your local state legislators and tell them to “Just Say NO” if this Compact is actually introduced to committee or the floor next session. Pretty simple.