TO ALL WESTERN MONTANANS, YOU HAVE AN OPPORTUNITY TO SPEAK OUT ABOUT THE OFF RESERVATION COMPONENTS OF THE COMPACT
The Water Policy Interim Committee is meeting in Helena on May 12-13, 2014. Discussion of the CSKT water compact will begin about 10:00 a.m. on Tuesday the 13th. The afternoon session will focus on the “OFF RESERVATION” components of the compact. This meeting provides western Montanans with an opportunity to weigh in on the off reservation water rights claimed by the CSKT in this water compact.
Article III of the Treaty of Hellgate secured to the CSKT the ‘right to take fish, hunt, and gather at usual and accustomed places in their aboriginal territory in common with the citizens of the territory’. The water compact interprets this language to mean that this off-reservation water is equivalent to a federal reserved water right.
A federal reserved water right only applies to the land that was reserved, not to off-reservation lands. There are important distinctions related to whether a ‘water right’ off-reservation was implied in securing a right to take fish in common with the citizens of the territory. For more information, please review Concerned Citizen’s Critical Review of the CSKT Compact and the Bilodeau paper entitled: The Elusive Implied Water Right for Fish: Do Off-Reservation Instream Water Rights Exist to Support Indian Treaty Fishing Rights?
CALL TO ACTION: We ask you to please go to Helena for this important meeting on May 13th, and to share this information with your friends and neighbors. Give a strong message to legislators that you are not okay with the off reservation claims included in this compact.
Click this link for a copy of the agenda, meeting location and other documents pertaining to the water compact.