I Couldn't Stay Away

Wednesday, July 11, 2018 - 5:33pm


Liz Todd

I was 7 years old the first time I heard of the Henry’s Fork Foundation. My parents are both avid fishermen and they were discussing driving down to Last Chance to fish The Ranch and attend Henry’s Fork Days. Somehow, I talked my way into an invitation and the next thing I knew I was clutching my fly rod tightly in my hand in the back of our car on my way to Idaho. Though I didn’t catch a Ranch fish that year, I did eat my way through most of the bacon they had at the pancake breakfast so I definitely had a good time! Fast forward 12 years and I found myself at another Henry’s Fork Day two years ago. However, instead of badgering my parents to participate in the silent auction, this time I was working at the event. I had accepted an A. Paul Knight Internship in Conservation with the Nature Conservancy and was working at their Flat Ranch Preserve in Island Park. My work on the Flat that summer solidified my passion for this region, so when I had the opportunity to come back this summer and work for the Henry’s Fork Foundation I jumped on it.

I love the work that I’ve been doing this summer. I’ve been working with Rob Van Kirk and Bryce Contor on the new water marketing and management program. I think the program is an ingenious way to balance the interests of the different usages of the greater watershed. In the face of increased climate variability, finding a way to maintain and increase juvenile trout recruitment is essential to the continued health of the various fisheries here. The water marketing program looks to influence that through a multifaceted, economic incentives based approach to water conservation. The main goal of the program is to end the irrigation year with a minimum of 44% of the initial volume of the Island Park Reservoir. This is achieved in a variety of ways and that’s what makes the program have the potential to be so effective!

This summer I am developing a scoring system that weights different criteria. I am also creating an ArcGIS model that geospatially implements that system across the watershed. My model will create a visual of the watershed that illustrates the priority geographical locations that the program should target in order to be most effective. The work that I do this summer will spill over into the 2018-2019 school year, as I will be writing my honors thesis on the system I develop and the various factors at play in the watershed. I’m thrilled to have to opportunity to be living and working at the new Community Campus this summer and I’m excited to continue my work with the Henry’s Fork Foundation through the development and completion of my honors thesis.

When I’m not in the intern office in the Community Campus I’m usually out exploring. Ashton is perfectly located for hiking and climbing and so I spend most weekends outside.

It’s a short drive from Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks so I’ve been making the most of my Annual National Parks Pass.  

Since I’ve been here I’ve explored the Beartooth Mountains, Custer Galatian National Forest, the St. Anthony Sand Dunes, The Paradise Valley, Earthquake Lake Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks and the area around the Madison River. 

With only a month left in Ashton I have so many hikes that still I want to do like Borah, South Teton and the Sphinx. I feel as though I have endless options for adventure and I’m excited to see what the rest of the summer holds!