Photo courtesy of Wolfgang Staut.
What’s Happening: While interests in California – agriculture, sportsmen and municipalities – battle over dwindling water supplies in a record drought, sportsmen across the West have been collaborating with agricultural interests to avert future crises. From the Blackfoot Challenge and the Sun River Partnership in Montana to Cowiche Creek in Washington’s Yakima River Basin, sportsmen have been partnering with farmers and ranchers to improve irrigation efficiency and devote some of the saved water to instream flows for fish and wildlife.
Why It Matters: The combined efforts of these disparate interests help ensure that working lands remain productive during prolonged droughts – and improve access to hunting and fishing, which creates economic benefits for many communities, especially in rural areas.
Significant Regional Fact: Legally, the Sun River in Montana could be drained dry by farming and ranching interests upstream, which would deal a fatal blow to downstream fish. However, for more than five years conservation groups and local irrigation districts in Montana have worked together to improve the effectiveness of irrigation systems. This has resulted in more river water downstream, which enhances conditions for fish in the Sun River.
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10. While California Fights, Western Sportsmen and Ranchers Collaborate – and Win