Western Water Project

Who we are 

Name a cherished place in the West, and chances are a river runs through it—places with names like the Blackfoot, Hat Creek, Big Hole, Henry’s Fork, Little Lost River. For as long as people can remember, these waters have held prized trout in their cold, clear waters and drawn generations of anglers to their banks.

But throughout the West, our rivers and streams—and the native and wild fish that depend on them—are in trouble. A host of threats, from drought and population growth to climate uncertainty, have left many Western rivers depleted, even drained dry. To make matters worse, outdated state laws actually discourage landowners from leaving water in streams to support fish and wildlife.

In response, Trout Unlimited started the Western Water Project in 1998. The mission: Restore healthy stream flows and habitat in some of the West’s best places. Today the WWP operates in seven states—California, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Utah, Washington and Wyoming—and its staff have won major victories for fish in courts and state capitals. At the same time, they have partnered with ranchers and farmers on pragmatic on-the-ground restoration projects that show that working landscapes and fish can coexist.

TU's Western Water Project is reconnecting rivers and streams—and building partnerships and community—across the West.

How we work 

TU’s Western Water Project started from the recognition that the health of our rivers, fisheries and wildlife must be included in water flow decisions and planning at the state and local levels. In the last 15 years, we’ve seen some real progress toward this goal.

TU has helped make thoughtful, pragmatic updates to some state water codes to make restoring and improving stream flows easier, yet fair and equitable to water rights holders.

We’ve partnered with ranchers, landowners and agencies on scores of on-the-ground projects to restore and reconnect fragmented river systems.

We’ve stepped in to protect some of our last best places—such as the Upper Colorado  River in Colorado and the Green River in Utah—from short-sighted development.

Although huge challenges remain, we’re optimistic about the future of our rivers and fisheries in the West. Many leaders are putting aside age-old differences to embrace innovative solutions and collaborative, win-win projects that balance the needs of fish and wildlife with the concerns of agriculture and communities.

We believe that, at bottom, most Westerners want to hand down a legacy of healthy rivers and streams for future generations. Because here in the West, our rivers run deep, through our lives and communities. Working together, we can make sure that those waters continue to flow.

Staff Contact 

Scott Yates, Director of TU’s Western Water Project

David Stillwell, Program Coordinator, Western Water Project

Randy Scholfield, Director of Communications, Western Water Project

Russ Schnitzer, Agriculture Policy Adviser, Western Water Project

Laura Ziemer, Senior Counsel and Water Policy Advisor

 

California

Brian Johnson, California Director

Sam Davidson, California Communications Director

Mary Ann King, Stewardship Manager

Matt Clifford, Staff Attorney

Chandra Ferrari, Policy Director

 

Colorado

Drew Peternell, director, Colorado Water Project

Rob Firth, Colorado River Headwaters Project Coordinator

Brian Hodge, Yampa/White Basin Project Coordinator

Cary Denison, Gunnison Basin Project Coordinator

Richard Van Gytenbeek, Colorado River Basin Coordinator

Jesse Krupthaut, Upper Gunnison Project Specialist

Kevin Terry, Rio Grande Project Coordinator

Mely Whiting, Counsel

 

Idaho

Mark Davidson, Director, Idaho Water Project

Peter Anderson, Staff Attorney, Idaho Water Project

Jerry Myers, Upper Salmon Project Manager

R. Chad Chorney, Southern Idaho Project Manager

Matt Green, Upper Salmon Project Specialist

 

Montana

Patrick Byorth, Director, Montana Water Project

Stan Bradshaw, Staff Attorney, Montana Water Project

 

Utah

Timothy Hawkes, Director, Utah Water Project

Paul Burnett, Weber River Native Fish Program Coordinator

 

Washington

Lisa Pelly, Director, Washington Water Project

Aaron Penvose, Project Coordinator, Washington Water Project

Jeri Timm, Project Manager, Salmon Safe Coordinator, Washington Water Project

 

Wyoming

Cory Toye, Director, Wyoming Water Project

Jeff Streeter, Project Manager, North Platte River Water

Nick Walrath, Project Manager, Green River

Tommy Thompson, Project Manager, Bighorn Basin

Katie Jo Becker, Program Assistant, Wyoming Water Project

Author of this Page 

Randy Scholfield
Director of Communications, WWP

Risks to Fishing 
Reduced Stream Flows
Issues 
Agriculture
Climate Change
Dams
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