Ranchers and farmers along the Blackfoot River in Montana have their own method for dealing with the drought that does not involve the federal government or bureaucratic regulations that often favor the environment over humans.
Using more efficient equipment to water their crops and voluntarily cutting back on their usage of irrigation systems are just some of the responses that frees up enough water to remain in streams and maintain a healthy fish population.
“It doesn’t have to be either farmers or fish, you can have both flourish,” says Gale Norton, who served as Interior secretary during the George W. Bush administration.
Called the Blackfoot Challenge, the water conservation methods were created in 1993 by local residents to conserve and enhance the natural resources. It is also one of many models being examined by the newly formed Conservation Leadership Project, of which Norton is a member.