Interior chief to talk about water

2009-07-13T22:25:00Z Interior chief to talk about waterGazette State Bureau The Billings Gazette
July 13, 2009 10:25 pm  • 

HELENA - U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., will speak at a water forum in Billings next month.

They are scheduled address the H2009 forum sponsored by the Montana State University Billings Urban Institute on Aug. 10 at the Crowne Plaza Hotel.

Salazar's trip to Montana fulfills a promise the Interior secretary made to Baucus during his confirmation. A Colorado Democrat, Salazar previously served with Baucus in the Senate.

As Interior secretary, Salazar oversees the management of most federal land, including national parks. During his Montana visit, Salazar also plans to tour the Flathead Valley and Glacier National Park with Baucus.

"I'm really pleased about this visit," Baucus said in a press release. "As a Westerner, he understands the importance of water to our livelihood and our outdoor heritage. This water symposium is a great chance for him to come and see Montana's situation first hand."

Chuck Tooley, director of the Urban Institute at MSU Billings, said Baucus will speak and introduce Salazar at the forum during the afternoon.

Salazar is expected to discuss some of the Interior Department's challenges with water issues.

Other speakers include Mary Sexton, director of the state Department of Natural Resources and Conservation, who will speak on "What Does the Future Look Like," and Tom Osborne, president of Hydrosolutions, who will discuss water rights in Montana.

A panel discussion of five people representing agriculture, industry, recreation, local government and conservation districts will discuss water rights issues from their perspectives.

Later in the day, a stakeholder conversation will occur, taking off on the comments by Osborne, Sexton and the earlier panel discussion.

Attending the forum costs $65 for a ticket if people preregister by July 24 and $90 thereafter.

For information, call 896-5862.

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