February 3, 2005

Nez Perce Water Agreement

It's the largest water rights agreement in Idaho history, with the potential to affect large portions of the state. Marcia Franklin examines the Nez Perce water rights settlement with three guests. The agreement, which has been negotiated over more than a decade, attempts to resolve the Nez Perce Tribe's claims to much of the water in the Snake River drainage. It has been ratified by Congress, and now is before the Idaho legislature and the tribe.

In the terms of the agreement, the tribe drops all claims to instream flows on water outside its reservation in exchange for millions of dollars in an economic development and habitat restoration trust fund, new water systems, BLM land, and water from the Clearwater River for its consumptive use on the reservation. The deal also provides for minimum stream flows on various streams and rivers, and annual releases of water in the Snake River to help anadromous fish migrate to the ocean.

A video piece will discuss the pros and cons of the legislation, including comments from some of the opponents of the settlement who see it as potentially damaging their property rights.