The Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes water compact has caused quite a bit of stir. Two years ago, we didn't have an opinion. Since then, we've read, listened and evaluated the pros and cons of the issue.
There is a distinct difference between the credibility of the supporters versus the opponents. The supporters have the background, expertise and facts to support their position. The major agriculture organizations (Montana Stockgrowers, Montana Farmers Union, Montana Farm Bureau, and the Montana Water Resources Association) are supporting it. They represent thousands of farmers and ranchers across the state who have a vested interest in the outcome. If the compact was bad for agriculture, these organizations would be leading the charge in opposition.
The governor, the tribes, major newspapers and the major cities in Montana have also endorsed it. The CKST compact has been validated by attorneys, scrutinized and revised for many years. Many hours of research have gone into the preparation of this document.
What we are noticing is that the opponents are using the “Credence Through Repetition Theory” to advance their negative cause by claiming it's unconstitutional and against private property rights. If something is repeated enough times, then it becomes fact. They are relying on vague concepts and pure emotion.
The tribes want to keep agriculture as a viable business within the boundaries of the reservation, so this is why it is a negotiated agreement. If the compact fails, the door will be open for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to use the bull trout to maximize stream flows, thus reducing irrigation and causing a negative effect to farmers and ranchers.
If the compact passes, agriculture is not at risk. If it fails, there is uncertainty and long lawsuits.
Please urge your representatives to vote "aye" for the CKST compact.
Bill and Helen Meadows,
Mountain Meadows Ranch,