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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 To make matters worse, outdated state laws actually discourage landowners from leaving water in streams to support fish and wildlife.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.
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.
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
Brian Johnson, California Director
Sam Davidson, California Communications Director
Mary Ann King, Stewardship Manager
Matt Clifford, Staff Attorney
Chandra Ferrari, Policy Director
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
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
Patrick Byorth, Director, Montana Water Project
Stan Bradshaw, Staff Attorney, Montana Water Project
Timothy Hawkes, Director, Utah Water Project
Paul Burnett, Weber River Native Fish Program Coordinator
Lisa Pelly, Director, Washington Water Project
Aaron Penvose, Project Coordinator, Washington Water Project
Jeri Timm, Project Manager, Salmon Safe Coordinator, Washington Water Project
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
Randy ScholfieldDirector of Communications, WWP
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