Water can serve multiple uses to various stakeholders -- agriculture, tourism & recreation, and residential uses are three of the biggest on the Upper Yellowstone. There is a lot of data on agricultural and residential consumptive use, but there is no comprehensive data on recreational and tourism use of the watershed. Our PeopleNET monitoring project focuses on monitoring human uses of the watershed, and we are currently focused on recreational and tourism use due to the lack of data or recreational management plans on the Upper Yellowstone. (Note: that said, we are pulling together and infographic that tells the story of all human consumptive use, as part of our water budget project.)
Montana's tourism and recreation economy generates over $7B in revenue and 70,000+ jobs. Park County alone generates the most per capita tourism revenue than any other Montana county. (Click here for more Montana's 2018 economic report.) A recent survey in Park County shows what tourists and recreation users value and are willing to fund in our watershed.
At the same time, these "users" of the watershed create issues such as affordable housing and over-use of natural resources. Can our region escape the patterns of failure established elsewhere in the Rocky Mountain regions? Is it possible to simultaneously accommodate booming population growth near our region, expanding development and concommittant hunger for adventure while still maintaining a fabric of interwoven, still-wild landscapes that are anomalies in the world? Is it possible for native Montanans to afford housing, as higher-income states send their retirees here.
The mission of the Recreation & Tourism working group is to help agencies and citizens protect and manage the fundamental natural and cultural resources and values of the greater Yellowstone ecosystem (namely, our clean water, or open spaces and our rural character), while acknowledging that the business models of recreation, tourism and agriculture can help pay for managing and protecting the the wide open spaces and clean water of this place.
We work with the county, state and federal agencies to help define best practices for recreational use of our watershed. At the same time, we have feet on the street working on actual projects to protect the open spaces and rural character of our area from some of the ills of uncontrolled growth. For more information click on any of the below links: