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Upper Yellowstone Watershed Workshop 

Examining the Confluence of Past Lessons & Future Needs

September 4-7, 2018

West Creek Ranch near Emigrant, MT


The Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation is pleased to invite you to participate in the 2018 Upper Yellowstone Watershed Workshop-Examining the Confluence of Past Lessons & Future Needs, to be held September 4-7, 2018, at the West Creek Ranch in Emigrant, Montana. This workshop will convene an invited group of landowners, businesses, scientists, and land management leaders to examine what we know about the watershed and challenge ourselves to chart an action agenda for its future.


The workshop’s agenda will focus on water supply and water use, land use and economics, the challenges of climate and drought, and the practical lessons to be drawn from available science and practice. Participants will work to establish baseline agreement on what we do and don't know about the water budget of the watershed, and establish an action agenda for where we go from here.


The workshop will be held at the newly designed West Creek Ranch. While participating in this workshop, all lodging, meals, and activities at the West Creek Ranch will be covered by The Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation. 


The goal of this workshop, and others convened at West Creek Ranch, is to invite diverse, nonpartisan thought leaders together to address natural resources issues of mutual importance. Amid the natural beauty of Montana’s Paradise Valley, participants will convene in an atmosphere that is impartial yet provocative, polite while critical, practical yet imaginative, and above all open, respectful, and collaborative. The outcomes are intended to reach beyond the bounds of the face-to-face meeting itself, to provoke action, identify common ground, facilitate partnerships, and lead to meaningful solutions.


Tuesday, Sept. 4

4:30-5:30    Check-In / Free Time [RECEPTION]

6:00p.m.     The Upper Yellowstone: Landscape and Context - Dinner & Presentation Paul Shea, Park County Historical Museum
Wednesday, Sept. 5

7:00    Sunrise Yoga [THE LODGE] or Naturalist Hike [RECEPTION] - optional

8:00    Breakfast [THE LODGE]
9:00    Welcome and Introduction: Workshop overview and goals - Suzanne Apple and Whitney Tilt, Arthur M. Blank Family

9:30    Water Planning Efforts To-Date: The people, the processes, the recommendations, and moving forward         
            -    Governor’s Upper Yellowstone River Task Force (1997 – 2003) - Andy Dana, PMD Ranch
            -    Yellowstone River Cumulative Effects Analysis (2000 – 2015) - Karin Boyd, Applied Geomorphology
            -    Yellowstone River Basin Water Planning (2013-2015) - Barb Beck, Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks 

            -    Recommended Practices       
10:30  Local Voices: Discussion
11:00  Break
11:20  Land Use and Economics 
            -    Land use trends in Paradise Valley; Projected future trends (water & the floodplain); Current status of Park County’s 

                  growth policy – Lawson Moorman, Park County Planning Department
            -    Economic profile of Park County, and how it relates to the Yellowstone River - Larry Swanson, University of Montana
12:00  Local Voices: Discussion
12:30  Lunch
1:30    Groundwater Supply and Quality
            -    Basic hydrogeologic framework of Paradise Valley (aquifers), patterns of groundwater development, long-term groundwater monitoring, storage and recharge trends, groundwater quality – John LaFave, Montana Bureau of Mines and Geology
1:50    Local Voices: Discussion
2:20    Surface Water Supply
            -    The Upper Yellowstone Headwaters, NPS efforts to preserve the natural system in the Park, monitoring – Erin White,

                 National Park Service
            -    Fluvial geomorphology, hydrology/geology of the basin, streamflow and trends, stream gaging - Chuck Dalby, Montana

                 Department of Natural Resources and Conservation (Recommended Reading on Water Supply for UYW
3:00   Local Voices: Discussion

3:30   Surface Water Quality - Darrin Kron, Montana Department of Environmental Quality

3:50   Get Outside & Get Dirty [PAVILION POND / CREEK / AG FIELDS] Hands-On Experience:

           -     Water Quality 

           -     Water Quantity 

           -     Soil Testing

6:00   Cocktails and Dinner [THE LODGE / OUTDOOR PATIO]


Thursday, Sept. 6

7:00   Sunrise Yoga [THE LODGE] or Naturalist Hike [RECEPTION] - optional

8:00   Breakfast [THE LODGE]
8:45   Recap: Summary of workshop discussions and themes from previous two days - Whitney Tilt, Arthur M. Blank Family

           Foundation & Jennifer Boyer, Facilitator
9:00   - Montana Climate Trends and Water Supply Cathy Whitlock, Montana State University & Montana Institute on Ecosystems
           - Climate Vulnerability in Montana’s Agricultural Sector and Park County Marco Maneta, University of Montana
9:40   Local Voices: Discussion

10:10 Water Use in the Upper Yellowstone - Water rights in the Upper Yellowstone and their associated beneficial uses  - Kerri

           Strasheim, Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation
10:30 Local Voices: Discussion

11:00 Observations from the Land: Perspectives from Water Users and Landowners

12:00 Lunch
1:00    What Does It All Mean to Us? Review and discussion of what we’ve learned - Jennifer Boyer, Facilitator

2:00    Field Demonstration: Aquatic Ecology [CREEK] -  Adam Sepulveda, U.S. Geological Survey

3:00    Choose Your Own Adventure: Sign-up for one of West Creek Ranch's outdoor activities (e.g. golf, fishing, hiking, horseback

            riding, clay shooting)
6:00    Cocktails and Dinner [THE LODGE / OUTDOOR PATIO]

Friday, Sept. 7
8:00    Breakfast [THE LODGE]
9:00    Creating an Action Agenda - Jennifer Boyer, Facilitator
            -    What do we know about the Upper Yellowstone Watershed? 
            -    What do we need to know or communicate? 
            -    What are best approaches to addressing these knowledge/communication gaps? 
            -    Open ranking of best approaches to develop action items.
12:00  Lunch/Departures

Click Here for Speaker Bios

Photo by Rob Outlaw

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