Our thanks to the Western Ag Reporter for placing this front and center in their latest issue, and to Walter Morris for taking the time to write it. Below is a way of introduction from a friend of Mr. Morris’ who forwarded this article to us:
Walt Morris is a friend of mine from Twin Bridges, Montana who has farmed and ranched on the East Bench for many years. He is as honest as the day is long and speaks his mind directly and succinctly. He is not big on ” political correctness” and lets the chips fall where they may. He contacted me several weeks ago and was hopping mad over the compact and the people who are supporting it. He wrote this letter in the Western Ag reporter and I thought you might enjoy reading it.
CSKT water compact… My good friend told me to support it as it is good for everybody
By Walter Morris
I am a 71-year-old rancher in S.W. Montana. I have ranched since I graduated from high school and only can claim a further education from the School of Hard Knocks. I was elected to the EBID board of directors soon after its inception. Thankfully I was privileged to serve in this capacity for well in excess of 25 years and am still active in such matters. During this time, I was privileged to have worked with and traveled with Carl Davis and Richard Kennedy and a long list of distinguished ranchers, who helped develop and make the irrigation system what it presently is. During these years, I was allowed to observe many great people and accomplishments in water management and use. I was taught many things during this time and heard many stories told and old sayings repeated. Some of these that come to mind I will list:
– Tell a lie enough times, and it sounds like the truth.
– By omitting some of the facts, you can make any story come out in your favor.
– A famous person has way more credibility than an honest person.
– The Golden Rule is the person with the most gold makes the rules.
– All lies are the result of either ignorance or money.
The point being that, in my attending the “indoctrination session of the Senators,” the Judiciary Committee hearing of the MT Senate, and watching tapes of other committee and floor sessions of the Senate, I have observed all of these sayings being applied. After observing this in Helena, I apply all the letters in newspapers, ads on TV, pop-ups on the internet, and the very impressive speech of a lawyer paid for by taxpayers’ money, and I would have to believe that passing the compact is great for everybody.
Sadly, I have asked every person that I know that testified for or supported this compact and have received the same identical answer: “My good friend told me to support it as it is good for everybody.” If the legislature has any justification to pass SB 262, God help the people of the State of Montana. If this bill SB 262 is passed, it will set a precedent which will take all water away from the people, and if those water right holders can’t out-bid everyone else, this country will turn into a wasteland.
Also tell me how the DNRC can take my water right away from me on the basis that they have photos showing that, on one year between 1867 and 2005, the ranch I presently own allowed a few acres to not be irrigated. To say that failing to irrigate every acre every year is justification for their taking my decreed water right, while giving the Indians all the water in streams that they MIGHT have fished in and a treaty dated 1855 gives them the right to share in the harvest of fish… it all seems very contradictory.
Please explain how you can change a right to harvest fish into an in-stream water right. If by some miracle you have any such fact, then justify making this right have a priority date of time immemorial.
If you have any solid facts, please present them as I am tired of hearing that something is good for everybody when ALL OF THE FACTS PROVE THAT THEY ARE TERRIBLE for anybody with a water right.
I have read and researched and can find NOT ONE FACT that supports this compact that is good for anybody other than the Indian Tribes and the federal government. Thus I would like to ask those people that are supporting it, which of the two things brought you to your conclusion.