Drought disaster increased to 31 counties, 6 reservations

From the Great Falls Tribune:

Gov. Steve Bullock issued an executive order on Friday declaring 31 counties and six Indian Reservations are in drought disaster.

The counties are: Blaine, Big Horn, Carter, Chouteau, Custer, Daniels, Dawson, Fallon, Fergus, Garfield, Golden Valley, Hill, Judith Basin, Lake, Lincoln, McCone, Musselshell, Petroleum, Phillips, Powder River, Prairie, Richland, Roosevelt, Rosebud, Sanders, Sheridan, Treasure, Valley, Yellowstone, Wheatland and Wibaux.

Also included are the Fort Peck Indian Reservation, Fort Belknap Indian Reservation, Rocky Boy’s Indian Reservation, Crow Indian Reservation, Northern Cheyenne Indian Reservation and the Flathead Indian Reservation.

On July 19, Bullock declared a drought disaster for 28 of Montana’s 56 counties and five Indian reservations.

The newest drought disaster declaration continues the temporary suspension of “hours of service” regulations and waives temporary registration, temporary fuel permits and over-dimensional permit requirements for commercial vehicles providing support for the drought, state officials said.

The declaration also compels maximum employee assistance and cooperation with the United States Departments’ of Agriculture and Commerce to secure timely economic assistance.

As of July 10 small nonfarm businesses in 16 Montana counties are eligible to apply for low-interest federal disaster loans from the U.S. Small Business Administration after Bullock sent a letter to U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue requesting a Secretarial Drought Disaster Designation. Affected counties and reservations are also eligible for the Livestock Forage Program.

Bullock said high temperatures, extreme drought and worsening fire conditions are affecting Montanans in many corners of our state.

“We’re doing everything we can to minimize the economic impact of these hot and dry conditions and help folks get back on their feet using all resources available,” he said.

For more information visit www.drought.mt.gov.

Governor Bullock Announces Trade Mission to Taiwan, South Korea

Montana Governor Steve Bullock today announced that he will lead a seven-day trade mission to Taiwan and South Korea in the fall of 2015. Governor Bullock made the announcement during his remarks at the Why Asia Matters to Montana public forum that took place in Bozeman as part of the 2015 Asia + Montana Bozeman Retreat coordinated by the Maureen and Mike Mansfield Center, the City of Bozeman, and Montana State University.

“With an increasingly connected global economy, I am committed to enhancing the competitiveness of Montana businesses in the international marketplace,” said Bullock. “I look forward to strengthening our trade relations with these two countries and promoting the quality and authenticity of Montana’s businesses, products, and people.”

The mission will bring together leaders in business, education, and government to focus on creating export opportunities for Montana businesses as well as strengthening the diplomatic and trade relationships between the economies of Montana, South Korea, and Taiwan. The mission will take place October 24 – 30 and include Montana business owners who have identified export opportunities in the Asia Pacific region.

Organized by the Governor’s Office and the Montana Department of Commerce, the trade mission will include high-level meetings with officials in the Taiwanese and South Korean governments, business and investment meetings for the business delegation, and joint seminars to promote Montana in both countries.

“We are putting together a fast-paced, business-focused trip that will open doors for Montana businesses and strengthen diplomatic and trade relations between Montana and Taiwan and South Korea,” said Montana Department of Commerce Director Meg O’Leary.

With more than 95 percent of the world’s population and 80 percent of the world’s purchasing power outside the United States, future economic growth and jobs in Montana increasingly depend on expanding international trade and investment opportunities. Last fall, Governor Bullock led a similar mission to the People’s Republic of China. Since then, Montana has hosted numerous inbound trade delegations from China and connected qualified Chinese companies with Montana businesses looking to grow and expand in the market. This past week, an international energy conference took place in Billings as a result of a meeting Bullock had with Chinese energy officials during the mission.

Participating businesses will have the opportunity to take advantage of trade facilitation services provided by the U.S. Commercial Service, which are designed to connect businesses with top-level corporate and government leaders in one-on-one business meetings. Participants will be responsible for individual trip expenses.

–Press Release, August 28. Stay tuned to learn more about how this trip will involve ranchers and beef trade.

Governor Steve Bullock Signs CSKT Water Compact Into Law

Senator Chas Vincent (R, Libby) speaks during the ceremony for signing of SB 262 at the Capitol on April 24. Image: Governor Steve Bullock

Senator Chas Vincent (R, Libby) speaks during the ceremony for signing of SB 262 at the Capitol on April 24.
Image: Governor Steve Bullock

Governor Steve Bullock today was joined by Sen. Chas Vincent and tribal leaders fromthe Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes as he signed the CSKT Water Compact into law. Once implemented, the Compact will honor tribal treaty rights, while protecting water access for farmers and ranchers both on and off the reservation, as well as avoiding the uncertainty that decades of litigation would cause. It is the final tribal water compact to be approved by the Montana Legislature.

“I am honored to sign the CSKT Water Compact into law. It is proof that when we put partisanship aside, work together and seek out solutions, we can tackle the biggest and most complex issues before us,” Bullock said. “This Compact will ensure that we’re living up to our treaty obligations while protecting the interests of Montana’s farmers, ranchers, and businesses.”

After the Legislature failed to approve the Compact during the 2013 legislative session, Bullock andthe Tribe agreed to reopen limited negotiations on issues related to irrigation use and instream flows on the Reservation, as well as incorporating recommendations from the Montana Water Policy Interim Committee. After a series of public hearings, Sen. Chas Vincent, who opposed the Compact in 2013 agreed to be the lead sponsor of the bill in the Montana legislature.

“Water is no doubt the most valuable resource in the Montana. This Compact will ensure that all Montanans continue to have access to reliable water sources, whether they live on reservation or off,” Vincent said. “I’m pleased that legislators from both sides of the aisle recognized not only the importance of passing this legislation, but also that this was a fair deal for all Montanans.”

Governor Steve Bullock signs SB 262 into law at the Capitol on April 24, 2015. The CSKT Compact must now go to Congress for approval. Image: Governor Steven Bullock

Governor Steve Bullock signs SB 262 into law at the Capitol on April 24, 2015. The CSKT Compact must now go to Congress for approval.
Image: Governor Steven Bullock

The Compact will make new water available for commercial and irrigation use, end the water administration void on the Flathead Reservation, allow for economic development under conditions of legal certainty on and off the Reservation, and facilitate the completion of the statewide general stream adjudication. In addition, the Compact would establish a technical team with irrigator representation to implement irrigation project upgrades to protect historic irrigation use and meet Tribal in-stream flow targets.

“This day will be remembered for years to come,” said CSKT Chairman Vernon Finley. “We have more discussions to sort out with Congress, but we can always say that many joined with us as the Montana Legislature did the right thing and supported the CSKT Water Compact. This is a historic day.”

In addition to Bullock and Vincent, the Compact received wide bipartisan support from farmers and ranchers, business groups, conservation organizations, and elected officials. The Compact now goes to Congress and the CSKT’s Council for final approval.

–Office of Governor Steve Bullock