Guest View: A Culture of Collaborative Conservation | Chroniclers

True conservation work takes place from ranch to ranch and through collaborative groups and partnerships at the local level, in spaces where people step out of their comfort zones, put aside their livelihoods and priorities for seek common ground for the sake of our water and wildlife resources. The reason conservation groups like the Big Hole Watershed Committee are important is that natural systems are complex and require expertise across multiple disciplines to find the perfect place where real solutions can be found and projects can be made. . No one has all the answers. The way irrigators and land managers work together to make water work for all of its beneficial uses makes a difference.

In August, due to river-wide drought management and voluntary conservation, most pastoralists used 20-50% of the water they normally use, the bare minimum necessary to avoid going bankrupt. Similar sacrifices have been made in recreation, the dollars of which support our small businesses. Before mandatory “owl” restrictions were imposed on the Big Hole, many outfitters and locals collectively agreed not to fish the river after 2 p.m. and limited the number of patrons they accepted, making sacrifices for the sake of it. the greatest good of the resource. In neither case was the turnout 100%, so there is room for improvement.

If leisure leaves the landscape, our small towns suffer. If livestock leaves the landscape, so do cold water returns and the tax base of rural counties. If development intensifies, mansions dot the river and the land is broken up, pavement, septic tanks, lawn mowers, etc., quickly follow and all of these scenarios degrade the health of the river, public access. , as well as the spirit of collaboration we have cultivated for more than two decades. So let’s not choose sides, let’s make improvements on the pitch where we can. Manage our forests – each mid-sized conifer that crawls our hills uses up to 18 gallons of water per day leaving the watershed. Each incised canal that does not overflow on its banks is a missed opportunity to recharge the water tables. Let’s give irrigators up-to-date measuring devices and infrastructure, and bring non-participants into the culture of cooperation that works.

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