New program connects ranchers saving water with interested buyers


By Christine Peterson, Casper Star-Tribune

The idea is both simple and innovative: connect a rancher willing to conserve water with someone willing to pay for the conservation.

It’s not a government grant. It’s not another federal program. Instead, the Upper Green River Conservation Exchange will create a marketplace for managing water and helping watersheds. It could be the first of its kind in Wyoming.

“Overall we see it as a win-win situation,” said Melanie Purcell, wildlife and habitat program manager for the Sublette County Conservation District. “I think if we can make these programs work, they really have a lot of benefit, not only to the landowners but society as a whole.”

The concept was born in Wyoming more than a decade ago through Anne MacKinnon, a consultant and adjunct professor for the University of Wyoming’s School of Environment and Natural Resources.

Ranchers and landowners in the upper Green River Basin had talked for years about how to be paid for their water-related activities that weren’t just selling hay at market.

Most ranchers in the area irrigate by flooding their land. That allows water to seep into the earth, just as a sponge holds water. They they slowly released it downstream later in the season.

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Source:  Casper Star Tribune

Posted by Jami Howell

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