@2018 Montana Land and Water Alliance

A fool’s errand is described as a “task or activity that has no hope of success”.

The 1908 Amendment to the Flathead Allotment Act authorized the construction of the Flathead Irrigation and Power project to serve all lands within the reservation, including Indian allotted lands and unallotted lands settled by non-Indians under the various Congressional homestead and reclamation laws.  The 1908 Act contained a provision that once the project construction costs were repaid by landowners, the project management and operations would be turned over to the landowners therein.  These costs were repaid by landowners in 2004.

Then the CSKT Compact happened, and now Compact proponents are claiming that they can secure project turnover just like the 1908 Act said.

However, in the context of the CSKT Compact,and within Jon Tester’s senate bill, irrigation project compact proponents and landowners who think they can secure project management are wasting their time. Their task has no hope of success.

Why? The reason is that the details of the CSKT Compact itself forever prevent the landowners in the project, who paid for the FIPP, to manage anything other than their own demise.  To wit:

  • The CSKT Compact transfers the bare legal title to 100% of the project water to the CSKT.
  • The CSKT Compact replaces federal “project management” with management by the Compact Implementation Technical Team (CITT).  The BIA has an ‘advisory role’ on the CITT; project irrigators have one (1) representative; and the CSKT Compact’s project management goals are to transfer irrigation water uses to instream flow.
  • Resolution of disputes and water rights issues within the FIPP are delegated to the Tribes’ Unitary Management Board (UMB)
  • Jon Tester’s S. 3013 transfers the infrastructure (canals, laterals, storage facilities, pumps) of the entire FIPP to the CSKT
  • Jon Tester’s S. 3013 amends the 1908 Act to reject the provision that allows the turnover of  project’s management and operation to landowners within the FIPP (90% non-Indian).

Irrigators/landowners over generations who repaid the United States for the construction of the FIPP now have no avenue to secure project management and operations guaranteed by the 1908 Act because of the provisions of the CSKT Compact itself.

Irrigator project management of the FIPP under the CSKT Compact is a myth–it will never happen. A fool’s errand!

Don’t be fooled!