In the mid-1970s, the George Boldt Decision paved the way for transfer of Public Resources into Private Hands. The main players, in what is now known as “The Fish Wars,” were The Federal Government (and accompanying agencies), Washington State (and accompanying agencies) and the local Native American Tribes; all against the Commercial Fisherman of Washington’s coastal region.
If we fast-forward to today, we find basically the same players involved in the CSKT Water Compact fight. The only difference is that now the State of Montana has replaced Washington State, and instead of just affecting Commercial Fisherman, the CSKT Water Compact will touch the lives of most everyone in the state of Montana. If history is any guide, when this tripartite gets together it spells bad news for public resources; and typically creates a black-hole for Federal money to disappear into.
A friend recently put me in contact with someone who was on the front lines in the “Fish Wars” of the early 70s. We will call him “Frank,” which is not his real name. He knows The Federal Government’s battle plan, for he was fighting against it daily for many months. I met up with Frank recently at a local dining establishment, and that is where he enlightened me on the Federal Government’s main course of action…divide and conquer. Is The Federal Government using that same strategy today with the CSKT Water Compact? My research suggests that they are, for it historically renders successful results. Take a look at how much land The Feds already control out West. The new battle lines have been drawn, and now is the time to join the fight to preserve Water Rights for our posterity.
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