Happy May Day! Warmest wishes from snowy Montana. I hope you are well and enjoying a beautiful spring! Though it is still a white winter wonderland around here, we are all eager to be back on the Ranch in mid-May to get ready for guests in June!
Over the last five years I have been working with Trout Unlimited regarding my water rights here on the Ranch. Watkins Creek, which runs thru the Ranch, is an important fish habitat for Hebgen Lake. In 1902 and 1904 the Ranch was issued irrigation rights and over the years the water was used for irrigating pastures. The cumulative effect of all these leases was to almost drain the creek each summer. With our longer, drier summers keeping water in the creek is essential for wild trout.
Thru Trout Unlimited I learned about the Montana Water Project. This important unique program, the first of its kind in the country, works with water rights owners to put water back in the streams. Trout Unlimited made it possible for me to take all my water rights, lease them back to the state, and put the water back into Watkins Creek to ensure it is a healthy fishery.
Please enjoy this video produced by Trout Unlimited, telling the story of our collaboration to preserve healthy flows and habitat in Watkins Creek, a wild trout nursery for Hebgen Lake. “It’s easy to overlook small tributary creeks, but they play a big role in ensuring river health – and fishing opportunities.” Trout Unlimited