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Reducing Our Risk
Organization: Blackfoot Challenge
From ranchers to fishing outfitters, Blackfoot Watershed stakeholders are balancing their water needs and protecting the river’s native fisheries, including threatened bull trout. This “shared sacrifice” is in response to an in-stream flow right held by Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks that sets minimum flow targets. After several years of changing weather and water cycle patterns, those most affected by recurring drought: ranchers and irrigators, conservation organizations, state water and fisheries management agencies and river outfitters, formed the Blackfoot Drought Committee to implement a voluntary drought response effort in the watershed.
In the last 13 years, low flows have triggered drought response 8 times, demonstrating the issue of chronic drought impacts to watersheds and residents, and the new reality of changing climate patterns. With local economies based largely on agriculture and outdoor recreation, drought planning and stewardship are critical to community sustainability. Replicating this success relies on a solid foundation of collaboration, along with respected leaders within the agricultural and natural resources communities who rally support for a new method of watershed stewardship.