Water rights in Montana are ridiculous

MGTom

Living at the place of many waters
WFF Supporter
The reality is that water right establishment was necessary for the west to develop, and led to the prosperous land we enjoy today. Now that we know better, time to fix it. Here in our valley we got enough water back into the walla walla that it flows year round. Took many partners and long negotiations. So promising now a new chinook hatchery opened last month.
 

Dillon

Member
The Redrock above Clark Canyon Reservoir flows exclusively through private land above Clark Canyon Reservoir. During the irrigation season the river is channeled into irrigation ditches leaving some sections of the river bed dry. Then somewhere above Ted’s ranch the ditches flow back into the river bed where flows are adequate for good Trout habitat. Back in the day, before he owned it one could buy access to that part of the river for cheap. Unbelievable fishing!

Of course, the Beaverhead is the tailwater below Clark Canyon Dam. Right now it‘s running way high, about 750 cfs., for irrigation. That’s too high to wade, but a ways below Dillon it’s probably half the cfs. In the winter the Beaverhead is a mere trickle, maybe 40 cfs. because water is being held back to fill the reservoir for the next growing season.

Fish seem to survive, but a lot of invertebrate habitat is destroyed. Low water flows are devastating to insect hatches. They have plummeted over the years.
 

BearBio

Active Member
The Redrock above Clark Canyon Reservoir flows exclusively through private land above Clark Canyon Reservoir. During the irrigation season the river is channeled into irrigation ditches leaving some sections of the river bed dry. Then somewhere above Ted’s ranch the ditches flow back into the river bed where flows are adequate for good Trout habitat. Back in the day, before he owned it one could buy access to that part of the river for cheap. Unbelievable fishing!

Of course, the Beaverhead is the tailwater below Clark Canyon Dam. Right now it‘s running way high, about 750 cfs., for irrigation. That’s too high to wade, but a ways below Dillon it’s probably half the cfs. In the winter the Beaverhead is a mere trickle, maybe 40 cfs. because water is being held back to fill the reservoir for the next growing season.

Fish seem to survive, but a lot of invertebrate habitat is destroyed. Low water flows are devastating to insect hatches. They have plummeted over the years.
The Yakima has a system called "Flip Flop" where the natural flows are reversed to fill reservoirs, leaving the rivers low when the smolts out-migrate.
 

WAS

Active Member
The reality is that water right establishment was necessary for the west to develop, and led to the prosperous land we enjoy today. Now that we know better, time to fix it. Here in our valley we got enough water back into the walla walla that it flows year round. Took many partners and long negotiations. So promising now a new chinook hatchery opened last month.
Yes, in the late 1800's the railroads enticed folks to move to Montana under the pretext that there was adequate water to farm or ranch. (In the wide scope of things this was mostly untrue and thousands spent their life savings making the move only to fail in a short time, and leave.) Meanwhile the RRs pocketed the money and rolled on. As homesteading acts were passed lucky settlers claimed land and raced to file water rights before their neighbors, eventually causing the later to fail and sell out to the man with the water and the $$.

Time to fix this indeed.
 

O' Clarkii Stomias

Active Member
Yes, in the late 1800's the railroads enticed folks to move to Montana under the pretext that there was adequate water to farm or ranch. (In the wide scope of things this was mostly untrue and thousands spent their life savings making the move only to fail in a short time, and leave.) Meanwhile the RRs pocketed the money and rolled on. As homesteading acts were passed lucky settlers claimed land and raced to file water rights before their neighbors, eventually causing the later to fail and sell out to the man with the water and the $$.

Time to fix this indeed.
There was no pretext. The railroads promoted agriculture as a way to generate revenue freight, primary back to the east coast. They recruited Scandinavians to move to the US to grow dry land wheat on Montana, as in recent memory, the summers were wet. Drought and hot winds ensued, and crops failed, leading to the development of today's irrigation practices. The Great Northern built the transcon with no government subsidies, and no promise of checkerboard lands. Just a business plan. Same plan was used to develop WA's apple industry. Wheat requires water, apples require a lot of water!
 

WAS

Active Member
There was no pretext. The railroads promoted agriculture as a way to generate revenue freight, primary back to the east coast. They recruited Scandinavians to move to the US to grow dry land wheat on Montana, as in recent memory, the summers were wet. Drought and hot winds ensued, and crops failed, leading to the development of today's irrigation practices. The Great Northern built the transcon with no government subsidies, and no promise of checkerboard lands. Just a business plan. Same plan was used to develop WA's apple industry. Wheat requires water, apples require a lot of water!
Going fishing tomorrow, Mr Stomias, more on Thursday!
 

John svah

Active Member
There was no pretext. The railroads promoted agriculture as a way to generate revenue freight, primary back to the east coast. They recruited Scandinavians to move to the US to grow dry land wheat on Montana, as in recent memory, the summers were wet. Drought and hot winds ensued, and crops failed, leading to the development of today's irrigation practices. The Great Northern built the transcon with no government subsidies, and no promise of checkerboard lands. Just a business plan. Same plan was used to develop WA's apple industry. Wheat requires water, apples require a lot of water!
My family immigrated to the pnw from Cut Bank to Fishtrap Wa for both of these-the Swedes farmed wheat and the Italians worked on the Railroad
 

CreekScrambler

Active Member
The farmers will probably get some sort of government assistance for the loss of water. Of course they want no part of this. They are good people and want to farm with water that was promised to them. If the drought continues then at some point they will go broke. Bad situation for everyone. On a good note, it is raining today.
The farmers refuse to acknowledge that they’re attempting to draw water that isn’t actually available. The promised water is completely irrelevant. It’s no different from me claiming that I’ve got a bridge in New York to sell you. The gov’t has foolishly treated this water as inexhaustible and the farmers want to farm land that can’t actually be farmed as intensively as it is.
 

tyghguy

Member
A bridge in New York has nothing to do with Klamath County. Or drought. Or water rights. But the government does. Just another broken promise. But in their defense they could not have seen this coming.
 
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wetline dave

Active Member
On the Yakima river the flows are increased when it is time for the smolt to move down river on their migration to the salt. This is a fairly recent development.

Dave
 

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