IWJV Story Spotlights Effective Use of CCAAs in the Big Hole Valley of Montana

IWJV Story Spotlights Effective Use of CCAAs in the Big Hole Valley of Montana

The Intermountain West Joint Venture recently posted a story about how a Candidate Conservation Agreements with Assurances (CCAA) program has been used effectively in the Big Hole Valley of Montana. The article focuses on how the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s (FWS) Partners for Fish and Wildlife program, Natural Resources Conservation Service’s Working Lands for Wildlife, state agencies, and non-profit partners have helped working ranches in the valley conserve Arctic grayling.

The fish had been proposed for listing under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) until the collaborative conservation efforts implemented within the valley through the CCAA program helped improve habitat and water quantity. Because of the community’s efforts, the estimated population of grayling in the valley has increased 172 percent in recent years, and in 2014 the FWS announced that the fish was not warranted for listing under the ESA.

“A working ranch can coexist with conservation,” said John Richardson, owner of the Hat Creek Ranch. “It costs the same or maybe less to build a fence that will meet your needs and provide for wildlife, and the same with your water resources. With a little thought, not only are these measures economic to operate but they also provide wildlife with water. There’s a way to make a ranch profitable and good for wildlife.”

The IWJV has been focused on working with the farming and ranching community to tell the story of the ecological importance of working wet meadows through their Water 4 Initiative. Their compelling story about the Big Hole River conservation efforts is a prime example of how collaboration is helping fish, wildlife, and rural communities thrive.

August 17, 2020