CME Meeting Minutes

January 5, 2012

St. Ignatius, MT


Present:  Ron Trahan, Leonard Gray, Walt Schock, Steve Hughes, Kerry Doney, Lloyd Irvine, Leroy Dumontier, Dan Emerson (via phone)


FIIP:  Gordon Wind, Pete Plant, RaLynn Brown


Staff:  Alan Mikkelsen, Les Evarts


Visitors:  Leroy Lake, Ted Hein, Dick Erb, Paul Hunsucker



The meeting was called to order at 1:00 pm by Chairman Ron Trahan. 


Roll Call established all members present, with Dan Emerson participating via telephone.


Walt Schock moved to approve the minutes as presented.  Kerry Doney seconded the motion.  Motion carried unanimously. 


Pete Plant delivered the hydrology report.  There has been no significant change in reservoir elevations.  Precipitation has been well below average, but Pete said that forecasters are still calling for a La Nina winter, which means more than average precipitation.  Off stream reservoir elevations in Ninepipe, Kicking Horse and Pablo reservoirs are well above average. 


Gordon Wind delivered the O&M report.  Tree and brush removal on the Pablo Feeder canal is proceding, with two crews working north of Post Creek.  The pre-cast shop is producing turnouts and check structures.  A crew is working on turnout replacement in the North Division.  A new crossing on Polson B canal has been completed.  A crew is working on brushing and tree removal on the Jocko Upper S canal, and the Lower S Canal headwall has been stood back up, after tipping over during last spring’s high water.  The headwall has been braced and armoring installed in front of it. 


RaLynn Brown presented the financial report.  The current O&M balance is $798,553.80.  Ralynn Brown presented CME Resolution 2012-01, the CME O&M Carryover Reserve Account.  Gordon Wind explained that he wanted to put carryover funds in a separate account, only to be accessed for needs such as equipment purchases, pumping cost over-runs, and special projects.  He said he would like to shift at least $200,000 to this fund.  Lloyd Irvine moved to approve Resolution 2012-01.  Steve Hughes seconded the motion.  Motion carried unanimously.  Ralynn noted that future financial statements would show all account balances. 


Gordon Wind discussed the letter received from BIA regarding the application for Net Power Revenues for 2012.  The request, a letter from Chairman Trahan, was denied due to budget constraints, but BIA indicated that beginning in FY2013, Net Power Revenues should be available. 


RaLynn Brown said that the switchover from FJBC employment to CME employment has been completed and employees are now formally CME employees, with continuing PERS benefits.  FIIP audit preparation is complete and an audit is scheduled for January 30, with Wayne Hintz, CPA. 


Steve Hughes inquired about the Montana Rail Link closure of the Dixon-Pablo spur line.  Dan Emerson said there wasn’t enough traffic to keep the line open with the closure of the Plum Creek Mill.  Gordon Wind said that FIIP would be approaching Montana Rail Link to rebuild the Crow Creek Siphon. 


Considerable discussion was held on stock water.  Discussion took place with Les Evarts, in response to issues raised by Kerry Doney and Leroy Dumontier.  Les Evarts said that in some instances, leaving water in canals may provide more benefits to fish than leaving water in some streams.  On Revais creek in particular, Les said that fisheries would prefer to maintain diversions into the canal, in order to prevent native Westslope Cutthroat trout from being drawn over the diversion, into a dry creek channel. 


Les emphasized that the BiOp did not require curtailment of stockwater deliveries in non-bull trout areas, but added that we should discuss this with USFWS.  Les said there were areas within the Project that needed to be examined on a site by site basis, such as Agency Creek below E Canal.  Carriage of water in Upper S canal and E Canal may be of benefit to Finley Creek.  Much of this water is supplied by Cold, Gold, Big Knife, Agency and Blodgett Creek.  Les noted that his major concern was with diversions from the Jocko River, at Upper S Canal and K Canal.  Les Evarts said that they would be willing to look at site specific issues and have a discussion with USFWS on stock water issues.  Les also cautioned final determination of water management is currently under negotiation within the water rights arena and there has been a lot of discussion about restorative flows in streams that have been depleted of water like lower Agency Creek.  These decisions and the trade-offs have not been completely decided upon by the Tribal Council at this point. 


Leroy Dumontier said that it was difficult to apply a uniform policy on stockwater, due to different circumstances in different areas.  He said the north and south sides of the Jocko Division were completely different areas.  Kerry Doney said that drying up canals like Upper S and E Canal would lead to frost heave and much more water being needed in the spring of each year to reseal those canals. 


Ted Hein asked Les Evarts to consider allowing the Little Bitterroot River instream flow requirement to go from 6 cfs to 2 cfs in dry years. 


Alan Mikkelsen discussed grant funding issues for both current and future grant applications. 


Since it may be necessary to change the regular CME meeting time in the future, due to recent Tribal Council elections, Steve Hughes moved that the next regular meeting be called by Chairman Trahan, with a permanent meeting time designation taking place at that meeting.  Walt Schock seconded the motion.  Motion carried unanimously. 


In public comment, Ted Hein asked if the FIIP could compete with pre-cast companies for cost of casting structures.  Gordon Wind said that costs per unit were decreasing incrementally and were getting closer to pre-cast company prices, but were still more expensive.  Gordon said that compared to other irrigation projects, FIIP was working with much more limited resources, such as building needs.  Ted Hein commented that he would just as soon see crews laid off in the winter and that all ditch rider positions were seasonal.  Alan Mikkelsen asked if that included the crews working on canal cleaning and tree and brush removal and turnout installation.  Ted said that he felt that costs could be lowered if they were laid off. 


An executive session was called at 3:05 pm to discuss personnel issues. 


Open session resumed at 4:00 pm. 


Walt Schock moved to extend the temporary employment of Gordon Eye for another 60 days.  Leonard Gray seconded the motion.  Motion carried unanimously. 


Steve Hughes moved to have the FIIP develop at least two stockwater demonstration projects, in the Jocko and Round Butte/Valley View area.  Kerry Doney seconded the motion.  Motion carried unanimously.  Chairman Trahan appointed Steve Hughes to chair a committee including Kerry Doney and Leroy Dumontier to work with the FIIP in developing these projects. 


The meeting was adjourned at 4:10 pm, with the next regular meeting at the call of the chair.