Thursday, November 17, 2016

Blackfeet Water Compact Sails Through Key Committee

In a unanimous vote Wednesday, the U.S. House Natural Resources Committee passed the Blackfeet Water Rights Settlement Act, moving one step closer toward full congressional approval of the historic compact, which has been awaiting ratification since 2010. Negotiations between the Blackfeet Tribe, local communities and state and federal governments began more than 30 years ago to establish water rights in and around the reservation. The compact will also help rehabilitate the Four Horns Dam and long-neglected, century-old Blackfeet Irrigation Project; give the tribe the ability to use, lease or exchange water on tribal land; and protect the rights of non-Indian water users and members of the Fort Belknap Indian Community. It also includes provisions that protect off-reservation farmers and ranchers that rely upon the water for irrigation purposes. The water compact with the Blackfeet Tribe still has not received congressional approval, despite passing the Montana Legislature in 2009 and having earned the support of Montana’s entire congressional delegation. U.S. Sen. Jon Tester, D-Montana, has introduced the Blackfeet measure four times...more

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