©2015 Concerned Citizens of Western Montana

One of our goals over the past few years, and our ongoing commitment to you, is to continue to keep Montanans and other interested parties abreast of what is going on concerning the water compact on every front including the Flathead Irrigation Project, off-reservation impacts and Tribal claims, court activity, and in other important areas.

Yesterday, Dr. Kate posted an article titled Drought, Incompetence or Compact Implementation?  Evidence clearly exists to show that to a large extent, in spite of a dryer than normal year, the problems in the irrigation project seem to stem more from compact implementation and mismanagement of the irrigation project than from drought.  Has the dry year exacerbated the problem?  Absolutely.  However we cannot and will not allow the Bureau of Indian Affairs hide behind the drought in an effort to hide what is really going on behind the scenes with tribal control over management and operations of the Flathead Irrigation Project.  And don’t think for a moment that Northwestern Energy and Bonneville Power are not part of the problem, benefiting from the harm caused to irrigators because of the implementation.  But this discussion will be saved for another day.

Below are updates concerning recent activity that you may not be aware of:

Another Complaint Filed with Commissioner of Political Practices

On June 24th, a second complaint was filed related to the CSKT for the lobbying effort that took place during the legislative session. Terry Threlkeld and Walter Morris filed the complaint that alleges the CSKT should have disclosed funding to Farmers and Ranchers for Montana (FARM) and discusses the lobbying effort by FARM to get the compact passed in the legislature.  FARM failed to file as a lobbying group, and the tribe maintains apparently that they are a grassroots organization that is not required to file as a lobbyist.

For more information concerning the complaint, check out this article in the Missoulian, Second Lobbying Complaint

Here are copies of both complaints:

04/02/15 Peters vs Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes
05/18/15 CSKT Response to Peters Complaint
06/24/15 Threlkeld and Morris Complaint

Tribes File their Claims in the Montana Water Court

For anyone foolish enough to think that the supposed and legally challenged “passage” of the water compact would provide for certainty and resolution, perhaps they should be paying attention to the tribe’s recent filing of claims in the Montana Water Court.  As you know, for decades the CSKT threatened the state with their massive number of water claims throughout the state, and their pervasive nature.

With their recent filings in the Montana Water Court, the bullies have not disappointed.  Please reference these documents related to their filings:

06/29/15 Order Concerning Upcoming Hearing
07/01/15 Memo of CSKT Concerning Rescheduled Hearing
07/01/15 United States Motion to Stay Proceedings in Water Court

FJBC vs State of Montana

Ever get the impression that the state of Montana is absolutely bankrupt in their arguments concerning why they got in bed with the CSKT for this water compact?  How about these plausible reasons:

Threat of withheld federal funds?
Federal agency threats of EPA regulation and more “Endangered Species” designations?
Promises related to federal actions in Eastern Montana?
The willful ignorance of Montana’s so-called “leadership”?

Whatever the reasons for state capitulation on the compact, it remains obvious that the state and its citizens had everything to lose and were not represented at the negotiating table.  It was literally three parties at the table guided by Tribal and federal objectives. The state of Montana and its citizens gained little if anything, and we very likely will never fully know or understand the motives behind this compact.

It is odd that both the governor and the attorney general have proceeded as though the compact was approved in the Montana legislature.  Is this a case of putting their heads in the sand and pretending that a problem doesn’t exist?  Or are they foolish enough to think or perhaps believe they have inside information that the Montana Supreme will ultimately align with their position?

Regardless, the lawsuit filed by the FJBC challenging the vote in the legislature proceeds forward.  Below please find the Attorney General’s office motion to dismiss as submitted to the 20th District Court and the court’s response, and the tribe’s motion to intervene:

07/02/15 AG Motion to Dismiss
07/02/15 AG Brief in Support of Motion to Dismiss
08/08/15 FJBC Response to AG Motion to Dismiss
08/21/15 State’s Reply In Support of Motion to Dismiss
08/27/15 State’s Notice of Supplemental Authority
12/02/15 Order Denying AG Motion to Dismiss
12/10/15 Proposed Defendants Intervenors Answer to 1st Amendment
12/10/15 Motion and Brief to Answer as Defendant
01/07/16 CSKT Response to Plaintiff Opposition of Motion to Intervene
02/02/16 Order Granting Tribe’s Motion to Intervene 02/02/16
02/11/16 Tribe’s Motion for Summary Judgment
02/16/16 Plaintiff’s Brief in support of Motion for Partial Summary Judgment
02/16/16 State’s Brief opposing Motion for Partial Summary Judgment
03/02/16 Plaintiff’s Response Brief in Opposition to Intervenor Defendant CSKT
03/21/16 Plaintiffs Reply Brief to State Arguments
03/23/16 Plaintiff’s Reply Brief to CSKT Arguments

Flathead Irrigation Project Turnover Lawsuit

The collapse of the Joint Board of Control in December 2013 resulted in the demise of the Cooperative Management Entity, an organization that served to manage project operations. The collapse of the FJBC was an intentional act by the rogue and now recalled irrigation district commissioners who were intent in using the collapse to get approval of the Compact.

In response to that collapse, the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) unilaterally re-assumed project operations in early 2014 through a hostile takeover, without approval of the irrigators whose lands are served by the project.  BIA deference to the tribe has demonstrated their desire to implement components of the compact / water use agreement, and is already causing financial harm to irrigators whose livelihoods depend on their historic water deliveries.  In April 2014 a lawsuit was filed for declaratory and injunctive relief concerning this issue.

The courts have largely ignored the irrigators plea for injunctive relief, and the United States, a defendant in the suit, continues the game of delay, delay, delay.  Sound familiar?  Apparently the legal strategy for all United States agencies is to bankrupt the country’s citizens by delaying court actions as long as possible, thus allowing financial damage to occur.  If delayed long enough the suit eventually goes away.  We believe that they greatly underestimate the will and determination of their adversary in this legal challenge on the project management and willful decision to ignore a federal statute that requires management of the project to be turned over to the landowners whose lands are served by it.

Here are links to recent activity in the Irrigation Project Turnover Suit:

06/25/15 U.S. Response to Motion to Amend
06/25/15 Appendix A to Response
06/25/15 Appendix B to Response
06/26/15 Motion to Correct
06/26/15 Appendix for Motion to Correct
08/19/15 Order Granting Motion to Dismiss

Stay tuned for more updates as they become available.