Nez Perce Water Proposal Hearings Open to Public



By Faye Hoffman

Idaho lawmakers are opening committee hearings to the public this week to discuss a proposed water agreement with the Nez Perce Indian tribe.

The measure was approved by Congress last year, but it still has to be passed by the legislature.

Opponents, including the Idaho Farm Bureau, say the deal will restrict private land so severely that some farm acreage will become useless.

The legislation authorizes a state agreement that would give the Nez Perce tribe annual rights to 50,000 acre feet of water in the Clearwater River, plus $80 million in cash and land.

In exchange, the tribe would drop its claim to nearly all the water in the Snake River and its tributaries.

State lawmakers will hold public hearings in Boise Tuesday and Wednesday.

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