Note:  04/10/2014 Email Message from Senator Jennifer Fielder


Because of your acute interest in the CSKT Compact, I thought this point worth bringing to your attention if you had not yet seen it. As you may know, the CSKT tribe has threatened, and the governor reiterated this threat in his SB 265 veto statement, that the tribe will file up to 10,000 water rights claims if the Montana legislature fails to pass the CSKT compact.

An interesting bit of information relevant to this subject was revealed at our Jan 6 WPIC mtg by Tony Willardson, Executive Director of Western Governors Association Western States Water Council while he was giving a report to WPIC on “Water Transfers in the West”.

Mr. Willardson mentioned that in order to coerce Idaho into a water compact, the feds threatened to make massive water rights claims. My ears perked up about Idaho’s resistance to enter into a water compact and the high number of federal claims disallowed.

In summary, when Idaho refused to allow a compact the feds and tribes followed up on the threat and filed thousands of claims. According to the state report, the federal claims were filed to intentionally clog up the adjudication process in retaliation for Idaho not passing a compact. However, in the end, only 7 of approximately 6,000 claims were proved valid.

Upon requesting documentation, the email below is what I received from the Assistant Director/General Counsel of Western States Water Council, an arm of Western Governors Assoc.

Here is John Simpson’s presentation from the Western States Water Council meeting Oct. 2011 in Idaho Falls. On page 9, Mr. Simpson’s slide presentation shows all 5,970 federal water rights claimed and the 5,963 DISALLOWED. 

Senator Jennifer Fielder
Montana State Senate – District 7

From: Nathan Bracken

Date: January 6, 2014, 11:59:26 AM MST To: “Willardson, Tony” Subject: Idaho Snake Valley

Hi Tony,  Good presentation.  By the way, for future reference, here are the numbers from Idaho’s Snake Valley Adjudication, which I’ve taken from John Simpson’s presentation at our Oct. 2011 Idaho Falls meetings.

-Total federal claims: 5,970. The Forest Service made 3,748 of those claims, while the rest came from the Fish and Wildlife Service (4 claims) and tribes in the area (2,201 claims).

-Total federal claims allowed: 7

Nathan Bracken
Assistant Director/General
Counsel  Western States Water Council