Zinke returns to MT to present funding for Blackfeet Water Compa - KPAX.com | Continuous News | Missoula & Western Montana

Zinke returns to MT to present funding for Blackfeet Water Compact

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U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke was in Montana on Friday to visit Browning and Heart Butte.

Before touring Heart Butte, Zinke visited Browning to present and sign for the implementation money for the Blackfeet Water Compact.

Harry Barnes, chairman of the Blackfeet Tribal Council, said the money will be used first toward deferred maintenance, then the community will get to prioritize what other projects will be worked on.

The authorization transfers $800,000 to the Blackfeet Settlement Trust Fund where it will then be decided what projects the money will be spent on.

According to a press release from Zinke's office, the money will be used for the following? purposes?:

  • Budget Item 1 - $230,000: Establish Water Compact Implementation Oversight Committee
  • Budget Item 2 - $250,000: Hire Staff
  • Budget Item 3 - $120,000: Hire an Engineering Consultant
  • Budget Item 4 - $200,000: Contract for Legal Services

“The Blackfeet are one of Montana's great warrior nations, and like true warriors, they fought every step of the way for their people to get this settlement over the finish line. I was proud to stand by them as a state senator, Congressman, and now Secretary of the Interior,” said Zinke. “The Blackfeet have given up so much during this long process. Water is more than a drinking source to the Blackfeet, it’s their life source and we must respect and honor their culture and rights."

Barnes also asked Zinke to help producers in the Blackfeet Nation.

“We obviously have a deep concern for our cattle producers and we’re asking the secretary to use his influence with Secretary Perdue to get a national declaration to get some relief for our cattle producers, which are not covered under our emergency plan. It’s for life and limb, but not of cows,” said Barnes.

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