02.28.13

A Model Partnership for the Escalante River

Not long ago, we introduced CLF blog readers to a group of people calling themselves the Escalante River Watershed Partnership who have worked effectively since 2009 to improve conditions in and around southern Utah’s Escalante River. They have been so effective, in fact, that last spring Interior Secretary Ken Salazar identified the partnership as one of 10 exceptional river projects across the United States to serve as models for America’s Great Outdoors River Initiative. And they have been nominated again in 2013.

Working with the Rivers Initiative, the Partnership intends to deliver tangible improvements in river health and recreation; provide replicable models for river restoration and recreation; provide easy access to tools and services that the local community can use to protect, restore, and enjoy the Escalante River; and inspire others to take action to secure economic, social and ecological benefits that come with having a healthy river.

Photo by Barbara Balaguer Blundell

February 25-27, the Partnership met in Cedar City, UT to review accomplishments in 2012, look ahead to this year’s work plan, and agree on updates to the group’s 10-year Action Plan. Updated annually and “adaptively,” this plan guides the restoration of the watershed, encompassing issues of water quality and quantity, restoring the river corridor, preserving native species, conducting and applying solid research, and educating people living in the watershed.

They are a collegial and fun group, too, gathering at the end of a long meeting day at Toadz, a Cedar City watering hole, for happy hour and more brainstorming. All together, the Partnership is made up of people representing approximately 30 organizations. Friends Grassroots Network member, Grand Staircase Escalante Partners, is among them. (Partners, not to be confused with the Partnership. uff-da!)

In the coming months, all of the Partnership’s working committees (Coordination, Woody Invasive Control and Restoration, Conservation Targets, and Education and Outreach) will be diving in to their respective work plans and on-the-ground projects. In other words, they’re going to get stuff done. The Outreach and Education Committee, in particular, has a long list of projects to set in motion that will help spread the word—wide and far—about just how successful and beneficial the Partnership has been for the river and for communities that depend on it.

From time to time, we’ll be reporting on that work here on the Conservation Lands Foundation blog. In the meantime, you can follow them on Facebook.