To achieve our goals, we work to:
We must build coalitions with others who favor healthy stream flows - recreationists in Colorado, farmers in Idaho, landowners in Montana, the Mormon Church in Utah, and municipalities in Wyoming, as examples. With strong coalitions we can advocate for improvements to state decision making processes that will allow for protection of instream flow values and needs in water allocation and management.
To maintain sustainable coldwater fisheries we must restore rivers in priority watersheds. Neither TU nor any other single group is likely to ever have the organizational capacity or resources to restore properly functioning watersheds throughout the West. We can, however, restore key watersheds or river reaches and create models of success so that others will follow our lead.
In the face of burgeoning population growth and competing demands for water, TU's Western Water Project continues to develop and implement strategies to protect already healthy rivers, and rivers that are being sustained due to our on-going efforts. In addition to defending healthy river flows in state water proceedings we use such tools as federal reserved rights, bypass flows, and federal permitting processes to ensure the continued conservation of these resources.
We have made remarkable progress toward our goals in the last eight years and have seen progress in every state:
California: We secured legislation directing the state's water board to adopt standards for instream flows for salmon and steelhead streams along the north coast. We then brought together a broad group of urban and agricultural water users, conservationists, and state, federal, and local agencies to make consensus recommendations for those standards.
Colorado: We stopped several poorly conceived and potentially damaging water projects, and secured new legislation that expands instream flow protection in the state.
Idaho: We secured important water management changes on the Upper Snake River system that have made natural stream flows and fisheries a fundamental part of reservoir operations.
Montana: We led the successful effort to renew and make permanent the state's water leasing statute. In Montana alone, we have completed more than 20 water leases with private landowners, restoring critical habitats and providing a west-wide model for how voluntary market mechanisms can help rivers and agricultural producers.
Utah: We brokered an agreement to remove a dam and secure permanent instream flows in a river the state identified as crucial to the recovery of Bonneville cutthroat trout, and followed up with an extensive habitat restoration program in the river's headwaters.
Wyoming: We were instrumental in an effort to create a $250 million fish and wildlife trust fund. Wehave built alliances with important individuals and organizations that now support an agenda that includes legislative reform to enhance the state's ability to protect water instream.
We are optimistic that our work will provide a roadmap to healthier rivers with abundant flows, and healthier communities that are vested in the long-term protection of their watersheds.