top of page

Upper Yellowstone Watershed Workshop 

Creating a Recreational Use Vision for the River

September 9-11, 2020

West Creek Ranch near Emigrant, MT


The Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation is pleased to invite Upper Yellowstone Watershed stakeholders to participate in the 2020 Upper Yellowstone Watershed Workshop which will focus on creating a vision for recreational usage of the Upper Yellowstone River, to be held September 9-11, 2020, at the West Creek Ranch in Emigrant, Montana. This workshop will convene an invited group of landowners, recreation and tourism businesses, scientists, and land management leaders to examine what we know about recreational use of the watershed and challenge ourselves to chart an action agenda for its future.


The workshop’s agenda will focus on water quality and quantity, fishery quality, the tourism economy & values, broader economic and land development, and understanding what a State recreation plan is and isn't (process, examples and usage data). Based on this information, diverse groups of stakeholders will collaborate on a framework of data gathering that would inform a potential future plan, leveraging best practices from other watersheds with multiple stakeholders, and avoiding examples of poor recreation plans. Participants will work to establish baseline agreement on what we do and don't know about the recreational usage 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 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.


Wednesday, Sept. 9

8am-Noon Field Learning 1 (Optional) Fishing Access Point Monitoring

12:00  Lunch
1:00    Introductions
1:15    Upper Yellowstone Watershed State of the Union
            -    Water Quality and Quantity - RiverNET (20 mins): Chuck Dalby & Adam Sepulveda
            -    Fishery Quality: Scott Opitz

            -    2018 Tourism Values Survey: Charles Drimal

            -    Economic & Land Development (Growth Planning): Mike Inman & Lawson Moorman 
2:45   Break

3:00   A Recreational Usage Vision for the UYW - What do we need to get there?

           -     What is/isn't a Montana FWP Recreation Plan: Cheryl Morris, FWP

           -     The Process

           -     Examples (Smith, Beaverhead, Big Hole, Madison, Blackfoot, Henry's Fork)

           -     A Framework for Usage Data - Whitney Tilt

5:00   Room Check-in / Free Time 

6:30   Orientation

7:00   Dinner

8:00   Cocktails & Fireside Talk


Thursday, Sept. 10

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

9:00   Breakfast
9:00   Recap
9:15   A Usage Data Framework

           -     Survey Methodology (Fishers/Biology, Socio-Economic, Rivers Use, Expectations, Satisfaction)

           -     Monitoring Approaches (FAS Interviews, Creek Surveys, Camera Interpretation)

           -     Defining Management Goals (Carrying capacity - the elephant in the room, Industry and Regulatory models, Getting  public buy-in to a planning process) 

12:00 Lunch
1:00    Field Learning II (River Float and Ecology or Ropes Course)

5:00    Maps of the River (Thermal, Irrigation, Access Point vs Other Watersheds, Development) 

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

8:00    Campfire Storytelling (bring your most memorable experience on the Upper Yellowstone)

Friday, Sept. 11
8:00    Breakfast [THE LODGE]
9:00    Creating an Action Plan - Small Groups with Stakeholder Representation in Each
            -    Create a framework and execution plan for collecting necessary data by Sep 2021
            -    UYWG Recreation Planning
12:00  Lunch/Departures

Photo by Rob Outlaw

bottom of page