TU names Ziemer to water policy post; Byorth to lead MT Water Project

Thu, 01/30/2014


Trout Unlimited Press Release



Jan. 30, 2014


Pat Byorth, (406).548-4830


Scott Yates, (307)-349-0753



Trout Unlimited names Ziemer to new water policy post, Byorth to lead Montana Water Project

(Bozeman)—Trout Unlimited (TU), the nation’s largest organization dedicated to trout and salmon conservation, today announced that Laura Ziemer, director of TU’s Montana Water Project, will lead a new effort to coordinate TU’s water policy work in the West and that Pat Byorth will succeed Ziemer as director of TU’s Montana Water Project.

As the new Senior Counsel and Water Policy Advisor for TU’s Western Water Project, Ziemer will be responsible for guiding national water policy, integrating water policy initiatives across western states, and helping to forge strong collaborative relationships between TU and other entities working on western water and western working landscapes. She also will help secure financial support for the policy and river restoration work of TU’s Western Water Project.

For the last 15 years, Ziemer has served as director of TU’s Montana Water Project, which works to enhance streamflows and fish habitat in Montana’s river basins. Among other accomplishments, Ziemer helped shape and implement a pioneering state water statute that allows leasing of private water rights for the benefit of fish and wildlife habitat. She’s overseen many collaborative stream and restoration projects involving landowners, agencies and other stakeholders. Her Montana work also included collaborating with the agriculture community and others to integrate ground and surface water management in Montana and working to implement stricter permitting oversight of so-called “exempt” wells, used by some developers to avoid water diversion rules.

“In the past decade, Laura Ziemer has established herself as a leader in finding smart, creative solutions for water challenges in the West,” said Scott Yates, director of TU’s Western Water Project.  “She understands that the increasing pressures on our rivers—from drought and wildfires to development and energy production—require new approaches, thinking and collaboration. Laura’s skills and expertise in water policy make her ideally suited to lead this effort.”

“This is an exciting opportunity, because it’s clear that to effectively address the large challenges facing Western rivers, we must address them on a large scale,” said Ziemer. “TU is working to reconnect and enhance river systems on a landscape scale—from ridgetop to ridgetop. That kind of scope and complexity require broad partnerships in which stakeholders bring diverse skills and resources to the table. And increasingly, the health of a river in Montana or Utah might depend on decisions made in Washington, D.C., about Farm Bill conservation programs or the Bureau of Reclamation’s reservoirs.  We have to coordinate the players and resources in a way that maintains the health of our rivers and outdoor heritage.”

Ziemer will continue to be based in Bozeman, Montana, working closely with her colleague Pat Byorth.  “Pat is uniquely qualified to lead TU’s Montana Water Project at this time, because one of its primary initiatives is to restore streamflows important to Yellowstone cutthroat trout,” said Ziemer.  “With Pat’s 20-year history with Yellowstone cutthroat trout restoration and recovery and private landowners, he is keenly aware of both its challenges and opportunities.” 

Yates added that “Pat combines years of experience with Montana’s wild and native trout with a deep understanding of water law, which allows him to think creatively about how to leverage the greatest conservation benefit from TU’s partnerships with agricultural producers.”  He’s also a long-time angler, and TU’s grassroots base of fisherman across Montana will help him identify and work on exciting projects to benefit legendary trout rivers like the Big Hole, Madison, Clark Fork, and Yellowstone.

“I’m excited by the opportunity to lead a program that’s bringing Montanans together to do pragmatic, high-value on-the-ground restoration projects,” said Byorth. “I look forward to working with old partners and meeting new ones in the coming year.”

The Western Water Project is TU’s largest conservation program with six state offices and over 30 field staff integrating both policy and on-the-ground work with the efforts of thousands of grassroots members and activities in rural communities in the West. The Montana Water Project has a number of legal and policy initiatives to restore streamflows while working closely with the grassroots chapters of Montana Trout Unlimited on restoration projects, said longtime Montana TU Executive Director Bruce Farling.

“One of the strengths of Montana TU’s conservation work is that we combine the passion and commitment of our many grassroots volunteers and chapters with the legal and scientific expertise of Montana-based national staffers such as Laura and Pat,” said Farling. “This allows us to get a lot of conservation work done where it matters most—on our streams and rivers.”

For more information, contact Scott Yates (ext. 102 – syates@tu.org) or Pat Byorth (ext. 100 – pbyorth@tu.org) at (406) 522-7291.



Trout Unlimited is the nation’s oldest and largest coldwater fisheries conservation organization dedicated to conserving, protecting and restoring North America’s trout and salmon and their watersheds. Follow TU on Facebook and Twitter, and visit us online at tu.org.



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