Archive for the ‘Guest Blog’ Category


Guest Editorial: Collaboration, not transfer, is solution to land management

By Tim Gavin and Lisa Pelly
Originally published by the Yakima Herald, November 5, 2016

Rep. Dan Newhouse held a listening session on the state of public lands on Oct. 12 in Wenatchee.

Newhouse was joined by Rep. Rob Bishop, Chairman of the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Natural Resources, who has been a leading critic of public land management agencies and part of the national discussion about the transfer of our nation’s public lands.

The listening session focused on many of the challenges facing our public lands, yet there was little talk about transferring our public lands. This is a breath of fresh air. Transfer or sale of America’s public lands is not a solution to public land management challenges. The answer is public land users and state and federal agencies working together to craft collaborative solutions for America’s public lands.

 There is recognition on the importance of public lands not only for recreation, ecosystem diversity and timber production, but also the protection of water supplies that feed communities, agricultural and our rivers and streams. This diversity of uses creates management challenges, but in Washington we have proven track record of diverse interests working out complex natural resource issues. For instance, the Yakima Basin Integrated Plan is a balanced package of actions to address water scarcity issues in ways that will help restore salmon and steelhead fisheries, improve water quality and quantity, and support a healthy agricultural and recreational economy.



Innovative Water Solutions

By Joye Redfield-Wilder
Originally posted at Ecology’s ECOConnect Blog

Irrigators coming together to pay for Yakima watershed projects

It’s a journey that old-timer Ron Van Gundy says started in the late 1970s and early 80s when irrigators were faced with new Clean Water regulations. Too much sediment was being carried to the Yakima River, causing it to turn milk chocolate brown at irrigation outfalls such as Sulphur Creek near Sunnyside.


Ron Van Gundy

Their response: switch from flooding fields with water to installing sprinkler and drip irrigation to prevent sediment runoff and pesticide pollution to the Yakima River. The benefits of their actions were twofold – an 85 percent improvement in water quality and conservation of tens of thousands of acre-feet of water precious to the agricultural economy in the face of drought and climate change..

Cooperation, not fighting
Today, those same irrigators with their once adversaries are helping to implement one of the nation’s largest water and environmental enhancement projects under the Yakima Basin Integrated Water Resources Management Plan.

The goal: to meet water needs for families, farms, forests and fish without fighting. The efforts begun decades ago helped irrigators get through the drought of 2015 and set the stage for success through the Yakima Basin Integrated Plan.

Where factions have traditionally lawyered up and met only in the courtroom, these same parties, known collectively as the Yakima River Basin Water Enhancement Project Workgroup, log many miles together pitching their approach to state legislators at home and Congressmen on the Hill in Washington, D.C. They’ve gained recognition in the halls of the U.S. Department of Interior and U.S. Department of Agriculture, where WaterSMART watershed management approaches are touted.



No Joke: Compromise on Eastern WA Water and Lands


Guest post by Nicky Pasi, Conservation Outreach Associate, American Rivers
Photographs by Keith Lazelle; Benj Drummond/LightHawk

Originally posted on The Nature Conservancy WA’s Field Notes

There are so many proverbs, pithy quips and wry one-liners about western water conflicts, you could bind them up in a respectably thick book. But here’s a new one, less of a joke than it might seem:

“An irrigator, an environmentalist, and a tribal member walk into a Senator’s office … and the room doesn’t erupt?”

Question mark intentional. It’s an unexpected scenario, but it’s exactly how the people of the Yakima Basin have decided to address their many, often conflicting, demands on water.


Fish. Families. Farms.
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