“In Montana, you're only a week away from a drought”: Ranchers’ perspectives on flood irrigation and beaver mimicry as drought mitigation strategies
Moore, Megan A.
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The concept of natural water storage has gained traction as an alternative to traditional dams that can potentially mitigate the impacts of changing precipitation patterns by slowing runoff and increasing aquifer recharge. We investigated the barriers and opportunities for two natural water storage practices, flood irrigation and beaver mimicry. We interviewed 8 amenity and 14 traditional ranchers in the Red Rock Watershed in southwest Montana. We found ranchers predominately rely on reactive, rather than proactive drought strategies. Most amenity ranchers had formal drought plans in place, but none of the traditional ranchers had formal drought plans. Ranchers perceived the two natural water storage practices differently. While all agreed on the benefits of flood irrigation, they saw the barriers, such as labor issues and loss of efficiency to outweigh the benefits. Many ranchers were skeptical of the benefits beaver mimicry could provide and voiced concerns over the cost, permits, water rights, and operational impacts. While there are barriers to both strategies, local agencies and actors can work to build trust and practice flexibility when working with ranchers. Ranchers mentioned potential incentives for implementing these strategies, which local agencies can use when working with them.
Moore, M. A., & McEvoy, J. (2022). “In Montana, you're only a week away from a drought”: Ranchers’ perspectives on flood irrigation and beaver mimicry as drought mitigation strategies. Rangelands, 44(4), 258-269.