Local support sought at Columbia River Treaty meeting in Kalispell

By Tracy McNew


On Wednesday, March 20 there will be a Columbia River Treaty (CRT) Negotiating Team Town Hall Meeting in Kalispell from 5:30 until 7 p.m. at the Red Lion in the downtown mall.

Senator Mike Cuffe has been instrumental for representing Montana and specifically Lincoln County’s interest in these negotiations for a number of years now.

According to Cuffe, “Jill Smail; chief negotiator from US Dept., of State, asked me to bring out a strong contingent from Lincoln County to this Town Hall Meeting. Montana’s Jennifer Anders, chairman of Northwest Power and Conservation Council, also asked me to relay her personal invitation to folks from the home county of Libby Dam and Lake Koocanusa. We need to have a strong contingent from Lincoln County at the Town Hall.”

The 1964 Treaty give Canada the right to divert 26 percent of the volume of the Kootenai into the Columbia River before it comes into Montana.

This could have devastating effects on our area.

A Resolution supporting Cuffe’s position on the CRT has passed the Montana Senate 50-0, and will be heard in the House Natural Resources Committee on Monday, March 11.

Another important part of this negation is possible compensation that could benefit our area.

Cuffe said in an email to The Montanian, “ The key point is that Libby Dam was built because of the same international treaty. British Columbia was paid up to $300 million a year. In addition, downstream benefits include navigation, irrigation, recreation, generation of carbon free electricity, and the ability to build thriving economies in the old flood plain. Libby Dam provides the same benefits to British Columbia, Washington, Idaho and Oregon, but no compensation came to Montana and Lincoln County, even though we had similar sacrifices.”

To learn more contact Senator Cuffe by email at mcuffe@interbel.net