Last Thursday, Reclamation held its spring Bighorn River Issues Group meeting in Lovell. The agenda was filled with mostly familiar issues including updates from other government agencies, but the last agenda item included something we’ve not seen from Reclamation: the early stages of what might be some honest-to-goodness collaboration with stakeholders.
A couple of things that have transpired in the last months or so are worth noting. First, the face-to-face meetings between Reclamation and Fish, Wildlife and Parks seemed to have resumed. This is a very good thing. These meetings were commonplace in years past, and it gives the engineers and the biologists a chance to share, collaborate, and reconcile their concerns, especially during times where conditions reach extremes. Second, Reclamation is making good on their promise to evaluate all of the public comments on the operating criteria. During the Issues Group meeting, they asked for clarification on several comments, and even proposed further studies on a number of comments proposed by myself and FWP. Reclamation made another promise to return to the Issues Group with the findings and any proposed action that may be warranted as a result.
This is very good news. Such good news that, at the urging of my friends and colleagues and opponents, I have decided to re-engage in the process so as not to miss this rare opportunity that Reclamation is offering. Sure, my butt is sunburned from having so much sunshine blown up my skirt, but I’ve got a feeling this time will be different. Reclamation must feel I’ve got something to bring to the table and it would be stupid if I didn’t follow through.
Let me be clear. Actions speak louder than words. If it turns out Reclamation is once again blowing sunshine, and reneges on these studies without explanation and/or continues operating under current criteria which it mostly does not adhere to, the gloves are going to come off again.
As always, I’ll keep you posted. Thanks for your support, encouragement, river reports ad humor!