© 2012 Concerned Citizens of Western Montana
This blog is maintained by a growing group of people, increasingly concerned about the CSKT Reserved Water Rights Compact. We are truly a grassroots group, dedicated to opposing what we see as a massive overreach for control of western Montana waters.
We’re committed to getting the word out about the compact’s flawed assumptions and process, and to inform the general public about what is included in the documents that they should be concerned about. We’ve been busy visiting the 11 counties impacted by the compact, meeting with legislators, county commissioners, business leaders and the public to increase awareness of the scope and magnitude of this compact, that is far greater than any other tribal water settlement. EVER.
We are not water experts or attorneys. We’re property owners who are very concerned about what this compact will mean to property values, the local economy, and to future growth and development throughout Montana. Because farmers and ranchers are the biggest consumptive users of water in western Montana, they have the most to lose in this chess game being played out by the state, the federal government and the tribes. When the farmers and ranchers lose, we all do.
In contrast, the compact commission members are pros. It’s leadership consists of attorneys who’ve been at this game for many years. They know and understand the ins and outs of stifling the opposition. They’ve fine tuned their talking points specifically to lull people into a sense of thinking they will be protected, while artfully steering people away from looking at the bigger picture of what this will do to all future growth and development in Montana. They use the divide and conquer strategy very well.
Thanks to taxpayer dollars, they have the staffing and financial resources necessary to peel off layers of opposition, one by one. Their political connections with people such as Brian Schweitzer, Steve Bullock and Mary Sexton, help them wield great influence over people, and empower their attempts to discredit anyone who questions them.
Instead of providing the public with a complete set of documents and the information they need to understand the impact it will have on them, the commission expects the public to go through nearly 1,100 pages of legal documents and water abstracts to gather it themselves. The sad truth is, however, that even going through the documents will not give you all the information you need.
For example, once you go through the hundreds of abstract pages to “quantify” or estimate how much water the state is giving to the tribes, you still need to know how much total water is available, and how much has already been spoken for through the state adjudication and permitting process. None of this has been provided to the public.
Chris Tweeten and Jay Weiner will tell you that the parties, particularly the state and federal government, are exempted from taking a look at the Environmental and Economic impacts of this compact. For something so big, with the potential to impact property values, the economy and future growth, the public has every right to expect that even if “technically” exempted from these studies (we’re not convinced), in the best interests of all 360,000 citizens in western Montana, they would work on the side of caution and complete these studies. Instead they are intent on rushing this incomplete set of documents through the public review and comment period and onto the legislature.
All of this points to one thing: A COMPACT COMMISSION CREATED “INFORMATIONAL VACUUM”, designed to leave it up to people such as us, to try and fill in the blanks as best we can. We believe it is our responsibility to understand it, and to inform others of its weaknesses, potential collateral damage and unintended (or intended) consequences.
When we attempt to do that to the best of our ability, they cry FOUL, and MISINFORMATION. Really?
Please do your own homework on the compact. Do not allow yourself to be sucked into their talking points, or their recent elevation of our own local representative Dan Salomon to “expert or mediator” status. Dan is being presented as an irrigator who sees no problem with the compact or the FIP agreement, which is a very powerful tool for swaying others into believing it can’t be all that bad if he’s okay with it.
Considering the fact that Mr Salomon is a compact commission member, and our local representative, the public should expect that he would have gone the extra mile to undertand the compact, its implications and to hear the concerns of his constituents. When he speaks publicly concerning the compact, all he seems able to do is regurgitate compact commission talking points. He clearly does not seem to have an in depth understanding of it.
Additionally, Mr Salomon has shown with his body language, and his comments in public meetings that he clearly does not take his constituents concerns to heart. He remains “neutral” on the compact to locals, but we hear he is coming out very vocally for the compact to other legislators and leaders outside his district.
Yes, with this compact we will have certainty: Certainty that people will necessarily be forced to litigate to protect themselves, certainty that future growth and development will be compromised, and certainty that the federal government will hold senior water rights for most of the water in western Montana in “trust” for the tribes.
Wake up, look around, see what your state government is doing to you via a very powerful,politically appointed board.