Working this summer on the Henrys Fork watershed has imparted three important lessons about effective watershed management: Stakeholders! Stakeholders! Stakeholders!
From data collection to educational outreach, the Henry’s Fork Foundation (HFF) centers stakeholder relationships in every part of the watershed management process. This is especially important because of the nature of water rights in Idaho, which operate on a doctrine of Prior Appropriations. Prior Appropriations allow “senior” water users to fulfill the entirety of their usage allotment and so on down the line, no matter the water availability of the season. For a conservation group like HFF, this means that personal working relationships with farmers and land managers is the best way to coordinate (hopefully) cooperative water plans.
Coordination is not streamline–in fact it is much like a watershed with bending and extending tributaries, each finger reaching out to connect vast land.
My project aims to explain the major water loss from evapotranspiration in the Henrys Fork watershed. I am using spatial analysis to identify covariate predictors and responses to evapotranspiration. In the end, the goal is to be able to provide scientifically backed recommendations for forest, land, and watershed management to minimize loss from evapotranspiration in the future.
Though I spend much of my time manipulating maps with large swaths of data, the relationships facilitated between the community and stakeholders of this watershed are apparent. Whether they are educational events helping to engage and share our work or a casual favor for the local dam, it has been eye opening to see how far coordination infiltrates the practices of HFF. Mentors in the office regularly share fishing knowledge or guided tours with the interns outside of their work hours. Coordination means engaging with a variety of stakeholders in ways of reciprocity not domination. Coordination is not streamline–in fact it is much like a watershed with bending and extending tributaries, each finger reaching out to connect vast land. Together, the streamflow and access can move mountains. In the case of a literal watershed it just might take a more geologic time frame.