Montana Hearing on the CSKT Water Compact



Chairman Scott Sales calls session to Order on February 16, 2015 at 8:00 A.M., in Room 303 Capitol.

  • 0:00:00 – Call to Order/Roll Call
  • 0:01:30 – Implement CSKT water rights settlement – Chas Vincent
  • 0:02:03 – Opening statement by Sen. Chas Vincent
  • 0:24:04 – Proponents
  • 2:12:16 – Opponents
  • 4:03:15 – Informational testimony
  • 4:04:12 – Questions from committee members and responses
  • 5:03:28 – Closing by the sponsor

See the same video on State of Montana site here.


Members Present:

Sen. Scott Sales, Chair (R)

Sen. Jennifer Fielder, Vice Chair (R)

Sen. Robyn Driscoll (D)

Sen. Jedediah Hinkle (R)

Sen. Douglas (Doug) Kary (R)

Sen. Cliff Larsen (D)

Sen. Mary McNally (D)

Sen. Mary Sheehy Moe (D)

Sen. Diane Sands (D)

Sen. Nels Swandal (R)

Sen. Chas Vincent (R)

Members Excused:

Sen. Kris Hansen (R)

Members Absent:


Staff Present:

Julianne Burkhardt, Legislative Branch

Pam Schindler, Committee Secretary

Audio Committees:

These minutes are in outline form only. They provide a list of participants and a record of official action taken by the committee. The link to the audio recording of the meeting is available on the Legislative Branch website.

Committee Business Summary:

Hearing & Date Posted: SB 262, 2/6/2015

HEARING ON SB 262 Opening Statement by Sponsor:

00:02:01 Sen. Chas Vincent (R), SD 1, opened the hearing on SB 262, Implement CSKT water rights settlement.

Proponents’ Testimony:

00:24:12 Vernon Finley, chairman, Tribal Council, Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribe (CSKT)

00:29:31 Andrew Huff, chief legal council, Governor’s Office, State of Montana

00:31:57 Melissa Hornbein, staff attorney, Reserved Water Rights Compact Commission (RWRCC)




00:47:28 Corey Swanson, county attorney, Broadwater County, special assistant attorney general to work on the compact, Department of Justice (DOJ)

00:57:49 Colleen Coyle, water rights attorney, Bozeman, Ponderosa Advisor, previous senior water master, Montana Water Court

01:02:57 John Youngberg, executive vice president, Montana Farm Bureau Federation (MFBF)

01:06:49 Gene Curry, president, Montana Stockgrowers Association (MSGA)


01:10:22 Steve Hughes, Montana Water Resources Association (MWRA)

01:12:38 Jack Horner, rancher/farmer

01:14:49 Ric Smith, owner/broker, Century 21, Big Sky

01:18:35 David Mannix, self

01:20:25 Krista Lee Evans, Senior Water Rights Coalition (SRWRC)


01:23:00 Walter Sales, Association of Gallatin Water Irrigators, Bozeman

01:24:08 Craig Woolard, public works director, City of Bozeman

01:25:44 Lorents Grosfield, rancher, Big Timber; co-chair, Farmers and Ranchers from Montana (FARM)

01:29:30 Rep. Susan Webber, HD 16, Browning

01:29:53 Wayne Scammon, St. Ignatius

01:31:27 Chris Hager, self, Flathead Lake United Methodist Camp

01:34:07 Sam Sill, Missoula Area Chamber of Commerce

01:35:12 Rick Cline, rancher/farmer; president, Westside Ditch Company

01:36:17 Karen Fagg, self, Yellowstone County; former director, Department of Natural Resources and Conservation (DNRC)

01:37:55 Roger Raynal, Tucker Crossing Ranch


01:39:33 Jim Hagenbarth, self

01:43:11 Hans McPherson, self; vice president, Montana Farm Bureau Federation; Farm Ditch Irrigators, Bitterroot Valley


01:44:01 Holly Franz, Billings Chamber of Commerce; Mountain Water Company


01:45:12 Jim Berg, farmer/rancher

01:45:56 John Crowley, manager, Bitterroot Irrigation District

01:46:56 JR Iman, Painted Rocks Water Users


01:48:28 Hertha Lund, attorney, Common Sense Citizens for the CSKT Compact


01:51:13 Dick Erb, farmer/rancher

01:52:36 Mark Aagenes, Montana Trout Unlimited

01:53:10 Dorothy Bradley, Clyde Park, member RWRCC

01:56:33 Mike Murphy, Montana Water Resource Association

01:56:53 Candace West, self; retired attorney, Montana Water Court

01:57:29 John Harrison, attorney, Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribe (CSKT)

01:57:44 Dennis Duty, self

01:58:00 Brian Upton, attorney, CSKT

01:58:13 George Alberda, chief water commissioner, Gallatin Valley

01:58:30 Sherwin Leep, Gallatin Conservation District

01:58:57 John Alberda, farmer/rancher

01:59:11 Joel Clairmont, CSKT

01:59:28 Joe McDonald, rancher/farmer

01:59:46 Mike Gaffke, self

01:59:59 Ken McAlpin, self

02:00:21 Steve Arca, CSKT

02:00:38 Arnell Phillips, CSKT

02:00:50 Paula Webster, CSKT

02:01:00 Jennifer Finley, CSKT

02:01:10 Joey Jayne, self

02:01:20 Richard Janssen, department head, CSKT

02:01:32 Carolee Wenderoth, Polson

02:01:44 Roger Starkels, self

02:01:59 David Pruitt, self

02:02:25 Ken Cornelius, Ronan

02:02:36 Bernie Atwin, Ronan, CSKT

02:02:49 Maggie Goode, self

02:03:04 Edward McClure, Polson

02:03:20 Janna Clairmont, self

02:03:31 Patrick Lake, self EXHIBIT(jus35a11)

02:03:41 Jacob Cowgill, self, Montana Farmers Union

02:03:52 Jan Tusick, Polson

02:04:06 Doug Alberda, Bozeman

02:04:15 Jerry Johnson, St. Ignatius

02:04:23 Sharon Guenzler, Mission Valley Irrigators

02:04:33 Paul Guenzler, self

02:04:40 Susan Lake, self

02:04:47 Greg Shock, St. Ignatius

02:04:55 Claudia McCready, rancher

02:05:02 Lloyd Irvine, Ronan, CSKT

02:05:13 Megan McNamer, self

02:05:20 Ida Montague, Helena

02:05:31 Vern Clairmont, self

02:05:42 Andrea Olsen, self

02:05:57 Dan Decker, Ronan

02:06:09 Roberta Decker, St. Ignatius

02:06:16 Ken TwoTeeth, CSKT

02:06:26 Robert McDonald, CSKT

02:06:36 Eileen Casey, Gallatin County

02:06:47 Sjaan Vincent, Charlo

02:07:01 Rep. Daniel Salomon, HD 93, Ronan, member RWRCC

02:07:20 Naomi Robinson, self

02:07:29 Susette Billedeaux, Ronan, CSKT

02:07:35 Patty Stevens, CSKT Tribal Council

02:07:49 Shelby DeMars, Dillon

02:07:58 Maccine Scammon, St. Ignatius

02:08:06 Jay Bodner, Montana Cattle Women, also for Montana Association of State Grazing Districts

02:08:19 Roy Lake, Ronan

02:08:31 Evelyn Lake, Ronan

02:08:48 Larry VanDyke, self

02:09:02 Carolyn Beecher, Ronan

02:09:13 Craig McClure, Polson

02:09:22 Jack Lake, Ronan

02:09:28 Shane Morigeau, CSKT

02:09:39 Frank Matt, self

02:09:47 Mary Stranahan, Arlee

02:09:56 Jason Adams, CSKT

02:10:04 Willy Stevens, self

02:10:12 Victoria Burkhardt, self

02:10:27 Doreen Vallee, CSKT

02:10:41 Ron Drahan, CSKT

02:10:51 Terry Pitts, CSKT Tribal Council

02:11:02 Carole Lankford, vice chair, CSKT Tribal Council

02:11:12 Shelly Fyant, CSKT Tribal Council

02:11:26 James Bett, CSKT, Jocko Valley

Opponents’ Testimony:

02:12:29 Rep. Nancy Ballance, HD 87, Hamilton

02:17:36 Catherine Vandemoer, Montana Land and Water Alliance


02:32:42 Rick Jore, Ronan


02:41:07 Aubyn Curtis, former legislator, SD 1, Lincoln County


02:46:46 Abigail St. Lawrence, Flathead Joint Board of Control (FJBC)

02:48:56 Jon Metropoulos, Rocky Mountain Stockgrowers Association (RMSA), also for Harley Hettick, Dixon Melon Company

02:54:48 Boone Cole, co-chairman, FJBC

02:58:59 Tim Orr, St. Ignatius,

FJBC EXHIBIT(jus35a15)

03:05:49 Ross Middlemist, rancher, Dixon


03:07:29 Jerry Laskody, Mission Irrigation District, FJBC

03:11:34 Harley Hettick, Dixon Melon Company

03:11:58 Kim Baker, Baker Land and Cattle Company, Hot Springs


03:14:28 Greg Hinkle, self, former legislator, Thompson Falls

03:16:12 William Myers, Big Fork


03:22:32 Verdell Jackson, self, former legislator, Kalispell


03:28:25 Robert Pierson, self, Trout Creek


03:30:08 Jim Paugh, self, Coffee Creek


03:33:12 Jeanette Zentgraf, self, Lolo


03:37:13 Thomas Lozeau,

CSKT EXHIBIT(jus35a23)

03:47:42 John Trochmann, self

03:48:10 Joan Carroll, St. Regis

03:48:24 Jock O’Shane Hendrickson,

CSKT EXHIBIT(jus35a24)

03:48:56 Derek Skees, self


03:49:06 Ron Hepp, self

03:49:22 Steve Tobol, Ronan

03:49:35 Leslie Buck, CSKT

03:49:52 Shelley Hendrickson, self


03:50:17 Clarice Ryan, Big Fork

03:50:45 Brian Quigley, self

03:50:58 Kim Skinner, self

03:51:05 Michael Hebert, self


03:51:23 Joy Claar, self

03:51:34 Chris Sullivan, self

03:51:47 Mark Haag, Columbia Falls

03:52:53 Jerry Gentry, self

03:53:03 Rex Radtke, Hall

03:53:13 Tom Rue, Hall

03:53:23 Carrie Paulsen, Whitefish

03:53:30 Jennifer Nicholson, self

03:53:36 Rachel Nicholson, self

03:53:42 Phil Mitchell, commissioner, Flathead County


03:53:54 Randy Doty, Charlo EXHIBIT(jus35a29)

03:54:05 David Passieri, St. Ignatius

03:54:16 Bob Gilbert, Citizens for Balanced Use

03:54:34 Jerry O’Neil, self, Columbia Falls


03:54:44 Matt Graveley, Avon, Rocky Mountain Stockgrowers


03:54:58 Gerald Cuvilliar, self


03:55:13 Clarence Taber, Columbia Falls

03:55:21 Fred Hammel, self

03:55:29 Patrick Lamick, self

03:55:37 Bill Slaughter, commissioner, Granite County

03:55:54 Debbie Biolo, self, Whitefish


03:56:08 Margaret Mullaly, Hamilton

03:56:20 Brian Bone, self

03:56:25 Johanna Clark, St. Ignatius

03:56:44 Shane Orian, self

03:57:03 Ruth Costea, self

03:57:12 Debbie Wilson, Kila


03:57:25 Alan Wilson, Kila


03:57:36 Gary Baertsch, self

03:57:45 Gene Erb, self

03:58:02 Roberta Stoken, self

03:58:10 Harlen Gerdes, Ronan

03:58:23 Wade Shepard, self

03:58:38 Patrick LaGuard, Plains

03:59:02 Wayne Blevins, Flathead Irrigation District


03:59:19 Len Shumski, self

03:59:27 Teri Swenson, Ronan

03:59:39 John Swenson, Ronan

03:59:52 Mark French, Paradise

04:00:12 Laura O’Neil, Concerned Citizens of the Flathead

04:00:31 John O’Neil, self

04:00:38 Dan Happel, self

04:00:55 Larry Dolezal, self

04:01:14 James Gould, self

04:01:29 Shirley McHenry, self

04:01:39 Sally Edwards, Lakeside

04:01:48 Gary McHenry, self

04:01:59 Ben Herwitz, White Sulphur Springs

04:02:12 George Hudson, Kalispell

Informational Testimony:

04:03:27 John Metesh, Montana Bureau of Mines and Geology

04:03:50 Sen. Bradley Hamlett, SD 15, Cascade

Questions from Committee Members and Responses:

04:04:07 Sen. Larsen

04:04:50 Ms. Hornbein, RWRCC

04:06:19 Sen. Swandal

04:07:11 Ms. Horbein

04:10:07 Sen. Fielder

04:10:31 Ms. Hornbein

04:14:26 Sen. Fielder

04:14:51 Ms. Stevens, CSKT

04:15:46 Rhonda Swaney, legal council, CSKT

04:16:29 Sen. Fielder

04:17:36 Mr. Metesh, MBMG

04:19:04 Sen. Fielder

04:19:07 Seth Makepeace, hydrologist, CSKT

04:20:38 Sen. Sands

04:20:52 Mr. Swanson, DOJ

04:22:39 Sen. Fielder

04:23:12 Mr. Orr, FJBC

04:25:22 Sen. Hinkle

04:25:44 Mr. Metropoulos, RMSG

04:26:52 Sen. Hinkle

04:27:11 Ms. Hornbein

04:27:56 Mr. Metropoulos

04:28:58 Sen. Hinkle

04:29:02 Mr. Metrpoulos

04:29:26 Sen. Hinkle

04:29:56 Ms. Hornbein

04:33:08 Sen. McNally

04:33:33 Ms. Hornbein

04:35:51 Sen. McNally

04:36:18 Sen. Vincent

04:38:00 Sen. McNally

04:38:13 John Carter, legal council, CSKT

04:38:53 Sen. Moe

04:39:30 Sen. Vincent

04:41:54 Sen. Kary

04:42:21 Mr. Metropoulos

04:44:53 Sen. Hinkle

04:45:33 Sen. Vincent

04:47:56 Sen. Hinkle

04:48:48 Mr. Finley, CSKT

04:50:33 Ms. Swaney, CSKT

04:51:33 Sen. Hinkle

04:52:05 Sen. Larsen

04:52:38 Ms. Hornbein

04:55:20 Chairman Sales

04:56:19 Mr. Finley

05:00:15 Mr. Carter, CSKT

Closing by Sponsor:

05:03:26 Sen. Vincent


1:17 A.M.

Additional Documents:



Here’s my outline of the proponent’s testimony.

0:02:00 Senator Chas Vincent, sponsor of SB 262, introduces the Compact bill with a history and a review of the changes since 2013. He says he was against the Compact in 2013 but  now supports the Compact because its problems are solved.

0:24:00 Mr. Ken Finley, Chairman of the CSKT, presents his views of the Compact. He emphasizes that the CSKT have given up much of their water rights in order to come to an agreement. The CSKT do this in the spirit of cooperation and in being good neighbors, so our children and grandchildren do not have to fight this battle. This is the last opportunity to avoid a long litigious process over water rights in Montana.

0:29:36 Attorney Andrew Huff, legal counsel for Governor Bullock, describes why our Montana Governor supports the Compact.

0:32:00 Attorney Melissa Hornbein, staff attorney for the Compact Commission gives an excellent overview of the Compact and the reasons for the Compact. She reviews the significant changes in the Compact since 2013 and shows the significant advantages to Montana to approve the Compact. She rebuts every significant claim by opponents of the Compact. NO opponent in this hearing showed any evidence that anything Melissa said was wrong.

0:46:30 Attorney Cory Swanson, representing Attorney General Tim Fox, gave reasons Montana must approve the Compact. He said, even if you go to court and win, you will not get a better deal than you will get under this Compact.

0:56:50 Attorney Colleen Coyle, water rights attorney in Bozeman, explained how the courts will favor the CSKT positions in lawsuits that will follow if Montana legislators reject the Compact. She mentioned Montana has already spent $90 million on related lawsuits. You can read her written opinion on this here.

1:03:00 John Younger, Executive VP of Montana Farm Bureau, said people want to settle water rights issues so they can get on with business. People want negotiation, not litigation.

1:07:00 Gene Curry, Montana Stockgrowers Association.

1:10:00 Steve Buttes, Montana Water Resource Association

1:12:40 Jack Horner, Fifth generation irrigator and rancher with 2700 acres on the Reservation, says Compact is bird in hand that we must approve.

1:15:00 Rick Smith, owner of Century 21 businesses in several cities in area, says businesses and retirees are holding off moving to Montana because of the uncertainty of approving the Compact. If Montana approves the compact, property values and business income will improve. If Montana rejects the Compact, property values and business income will fall. He lives on the Reservation and says the Tribes have been very fair and cooperative with non-tribal people. “The Tribes are not out to get us,” he says. Business says pass Compact. A known outcome today is far better than an unknown outcome decades from now.

1:18:40 David Mannick

1:20:00 Attorney Krista Lee Evans, senior water rights commissioner, says the Compact is not a federal government takeover. If you want to litigate your own water rights, the Compact won’t stop you. But don’t reject the Compact and take the rest of us down with you.

1:23:00 Walt Farrels, Gallatin representative, says approve Compact to keep us out of litigation.

1:24:00 Craig Willard, Bozeman water representative, says the City of Bozeman needs the Compact to assure its future water.

1:26:00 Lawrence Lorentum (?), Farmers and Ranchers of Montana, says here is where litigation will go if Montana rejects the Compact: Montana Supreme Court, Ninth Circuit Court, US Supreme Court. The CSKT will win at all levels.

1:29:00 Rep

1:30:00 Wayne Stammer, the Compact will affect Montana’s economy, up if approved and down if not approved.

1:31:00 Chris Hager, Flathead Lutheran Camp

1:34:00 Stan Sill, Missoula Chamber of Commerce, says the Compact provides certainty, maintains streamflows, and provides water for our future.

1:35:00 Rick Coine, president of Clark Fork Water Company, owns and irrigates 2000 acres in reservation.

1:36:00 Karen …, former director of DNR, now Yellowstone .

1:38:00 Rodney Raymao, VP Water Users Association, says we need Compact to satisfy federal government requirements for wetlands.

1:39:00 … Hagenbarth, 140 years in Montana, says avoid litigation. Drop your ego and greed that will cost us dearly in trying to win by litigation. Whether you like it or not, the Tribes hold a royal flush. Exercise common sense and approve the Compact.

1:43:00 …. McPherson, Farm Bureau Association, representing 241 irrigators, says we cannot afford to not have the Compact.

1:44:00 Holly Fraul, Billings, says the Compact will protect Billings and exempt them from calls.

1:45:00 Jim Berg, has 10,000 acres in Missoula Valley

1:46:00 John Crowley, manager Bitterroot Irrigators, 4000 users.

1:47:00 J R Inmar, … Rocky Water Users Association, says don’t let the courts decide our future.

1:48:00 Attorney Hertha Lund, says it will cost Montana $1.7 billion to litigate if it rejects the Compact

Many more proponent testimonies followed.

Then opponents followed. All were sincere but NO opponent successfully rebutted the proponents’ testimony for the Compact.

4:24:00 Committee Questions begin

5:03:00 Senator Chas Vincent concludes his presentation.

5:13:00 End of Hearing

In summary, the opponents were unable to prove there is any downside to the Compact except it will hurt their egos. When, not if, Montana approves the Compact, opponents will still be able to try their hand at any lawsuits they wish. As attorney Krista Lee Evans said, just don’t take the rest of Montanans down with you by blowing up the whole boat.

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