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Apr 29, 2010   |  Senator Jon Tester

Baucus, Tester introduce Blackfeet Water Settlement

Senators push to turn historic water rights agreement into law

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – Senators Max Baucus and Jon Tester today introduced legislation to turn an historic water rights settlement for the Blackfeet Indian Tribe into law.

The settlement would resolve all claims to water rights on the Reservation and ensure clean water for the northern Montana reservation as well as farms, ranches, and businesses in the surrounding communities.

Negotiations between the Blackfeet Tribe, local communities, and the state and federal governments began in the 1980s to establish water rights in and around the Blackfeet Reservation.  A formal agreement was finally included in the Montana Legislature’s 2009 Blackfeet Water Compact.

Baucus and Tester today introduced a bill to make the settlement federal law and permanently resolve the long-standing disputes.

“This is an historic moment for the Blackfeet tribe and for the Montanans who call these communities home,” Baucus said.  “Montanans of all stripes worked together on this plan.  Now we’re taking the ball and moving it closer to the goal line to finally solve these longstanding disputes.”

“This is a great example of folks sitting down, working through their differences, and finding common ground on one of the most important resources we’ve got,” said Tester, a member of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee.  “Now it’s time for Congress to honor this agreement by setting it in law.  We’re going to work hard to get it done.”

The Blackfeet Water Settlement would:

  • Establish the tribe’s water rights in all six drainages within the reservation.
  • Rehabilitate the aging Four Horns Dam and Blackfeet Irrigation Project.
  • Give the Blackfeet Tribe the ability to use, lease, contract, or exchange water on tribal land.
  • Protect the rights of non-Indian water users and members of the Fort Belknap Indian Community and the Chippewa-Cree Tribe of the Rocky Boy Reservation.
  • Develop Reservation water resources and promote economic development.

Baucus’ and Tester’s Blackfeet Water Rights Settlement Act is available online HERE.

Office Contact Information

Senator Tester's Montana staff serves the state from offices in Billings, Bozeman, Butte, Great Falls, Helena, Kalispell, and Missoula. Please bring your concerns with federal agencies, academy nominations, and other situations to one of these Montana offices.

Billings

Judge Jameson Federal Building
2900 4th Ave N, Suite 201
Billings, MT 59101
Phone: (406) 252-0550
Fax: (406) 252-7768

Bozeman

Avant Courier Building
1 E Main Street, Suite 202
Bozeman, MT 59715
Phone: (406) 586-4450
Fax: (406) 586-7647

Butte

Silver Bow Center
125 W Granite, Suite 200
Butte, MT 59701
Phone: (406) 723-3277
Fax: (406) 782-4717

Great Falls

119 1st Avenue N, Suite 102
Great Falls, MT 59401
Phone: (406) 452-9585
Fax: (406) 452-9586

Helena

208 North Montana Avenue
Suite 104
Helena, MT 59601
Phone: (406) 449-5401
Fax: (406) 449-5462

Kalispell

8 Third Street E
Kalispell, MT 59901
Phone: (406) 257-3360
Fax: (406) 257-3974

Missoula

130 W Front St.
Missoula, MT 59802
Phone: (406) 728-3003
Fax: (406) 728-2193

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