The Healthy Rivers Initiative (HRI), formed in 2016, is committed to improving water quality and sustain water flows of the Popo Agie Watershed through improved management, conservation, and developing water storage opportunities. Earlier this month, the Popo Agie Conservation District (PACD) shared an update on the initiative with the Fremont County Commissioners.

The initial focus of the HRI is the Middle Fork of the Popo Agie. It is vital to the Lander community and surrounding areas as it feeds city drinking water, agriculture, recreation, and wildlife habitat.

One of the key takeaways from the update is a challenge with the Popo Agie River water cycle, shared PACD Manager Kelsey Beck. Spring runoff exceeds 1,000 CFS, and late summer yields less than 40 CFS with only 3-7 CFS running through Lander during this time.

Along with the challenges of the water cycle, the River has had high enough bacteria levels over the past several years that public signs need to be posted warning of contact risks.

Over the past four years, HRI has brought together stakeholders members from the agricultural community, irrigators, fish and wildlife enthusiasts, recreators, the County, the City of Lander, and the concerned public to drive the mission forward.

The Mission: Facilitate a strategic, stakeholder driven initiative that ensures the vitality of the Popo Agie River by improving water quality, quantity, and the biological health of the River so that it better supports domestic, agriculture, recreation, fish and wildlife uses.

Their efforts have also been successful in raising funds to educate the community, complete mandatory studies, fund agriculture irrigation projects, create cooperative plans, stream bank restoration, river analysis, and so much more. PACD has also been instrumental in helping with a community flood mitigation AML grant application. In 2020, PACD will also be de-listing the .7 mile of the Middle Fork from the E.coli listing.

Their efforts are volunteer-driven. If you are interested in learning more about getting involved or the project, you can visit their website by clicking here.

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