Submitted by Friends of the Teton River
This piece was originally published in the July 7, 2016 issue of the Teton Valley News as part of the weekly Nonprofit Spotlight presented by the Community Foundation of Teton Valley.
Friends of the Teton River (FTR) has operated with the generous support of our community for 15 years—working together to solve the biggest challenges facing our watershed in a way that connects diverse stakeholders, stream channels, and the next generation with this precious resource. FTR is a nationally-recognized leader in science and community-based watershed protection and restoration that was founded in 2001 by a diverse group of stakeholders; including farmers, anglers, scientists, agency personnel, and conservationists who were concerned by declines in the health and quality of the Teton River fishery. The foundations of FTR are sound science, collaborative relationships, and community education. We work closely with local stakeholders, regional representatives, and state and federal agencies to develop and execute appropriate strategies to protect and restore the Teton Watershed. Just as water is the lifeblood of Teton Valley, science and collaboration are the lifeblood of FTR, forming the basis of everything we do. Our four program areas—Stream Habitat Restoration, Stream Flow Restoration, Fish Passage, and Community Education—are focused on achieving our mission of working together for clean water, healthy streams, and abundant fisheries in Teton Valley Idaho/Wyoming.
We connect with stakeholders. We work closely with agricultural producers, municipalities, agencies, homeowners, and water users to better manage water for a variety of needs and to implement win-win solutions that will improve watershed health and benefit our entire community. For example, FTR’s Stream Flow Restoration program aims to restore tributary flows utilizing cooperative, collaborative solutions. We are currently working with the recently-formed Teton Water Users Association, a diverse group of stakeholders from across Teton Valley, including irrigators, developers, and municipalities, to find common ground and practical solutions to complex water issues. By working with stakeholders and employing a variety of incentives including market-based compensation, technical assistance, and diverse funding sources, we can work with landowners to keep land productive, streams healthy, and municipal water sources clean and affordable.
We connect the dots. FTR leads the field with cutting-edge fisheries research and monitoring programs that have gained national attention and support for our science-based approach to watershed conservation. Just last summer in 2015, FTR completed a decade-long Tributary Trout Population Assessment to gain a comprehensive understanding of trends in the Teton Watershed fishery. This data is then used directly on the ground, to inform and monitor FTR’s Stream Restoration Program, which is designed to improve fish populations, aquatic ecosystems, and water quality, while also reducing flooding risk and property loss. FTR uses a holistic approach to restoration; involving landowners, agency staff, and other project stakeholders in science-based decision-making.
We connect with local, regional and national partners. FTR partners with conservation leaders and organizations working on similar issues in order to leverage more funding, expertise, and support for our work; locally, regionally, and nationally.
We connect with the current and next generations. FTR is the leader in water education in Teton Valley and we have made educating community members of all ages a cornerstone of our work. Our popular adult and school programs are designed to help the current and next generation of water stewards develop the knowledge, skills, and relationships needed to creatively and collaboratively manage the Teton Valley’s water resources. Whether it’s adult education through our Wednesday WaterWise series, grade school programs like “Trout in the Classroom,” or family-friendly educational floats on the river this summer, we believe that educating community members of all ages is essential to leaving a legacy of clean water and healthy streams for future generations.
We all know that Teton Valley is a special place—that’s why we care about conserving its water resources for the future. Whether you work the land or wet a fishing line, hail from a fourth-generation farming family or are a seasonal resident, we are all connected by the water that flows through Teton Valley. FTR depends on Tin Cup dollars to keep our staff working in our streams and in our classrooms, in the field and in our office; so that we can be better stewards for the watershed you love. We count on the Tin Cup donations of over 200 individuals/families for nearly half of our unrestricted giving each year. Big or small, your Tin Cup contributions will help us continue to protect and improve clean water, healthy streams, and a vibrant fishery, now and for generations to come.
If you are affiliated with a Teton Valley nonprofit, we want to hear from you! Help us share why Teton Valley nonprofits matter. Each week, the Community Foundation will highlight a local nonprofit in the pages of the Teton Valley News. Email Dawn Banks, Marketing and Programs Director, at [email protected] or call 208.354.0230. We look forward to helping share your story!