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Members in Action: Big Hole Watershed Committee

Friday, October 2, 2020  
Posted by: Keith MacCallum
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The Big Hole Watershed Committee is a consensus-based conservation organization, who for 25 years has been a model in SW Montana (USA) for how to constructively engage diverse stakeholders and develop solutions for water that benefit all water users. Pedro Marques, who serves as executive director has been a member of SER since 2016, and enrolled the organization as a group member this year. We reached out to Pedro to learn more about his experience in the field of ecological restoration and the SER community.

Why are you a member of SER?
Because we have a large portfolio of restoration projects, are increasingly involved in our watershed developing and implementing projects, and we could all benefit from the resources and networks that SER provides. We also need to connect our locally-rooted work to similar work being done around the world in order to learn and grow as an organization.

What are the core values of your organization?
We value inclusion and positive intention. We believe that by creating a space for all stakeholder interested in the resources of our watershed, we can find convergence and implement actions that have the most benefit for our resources and for all water users. Our 22-member board works by consensus to achieve results that benefit municipal and private water managers, the recreation economy and ou agricultural base, all while improving the health of our river resource.

How do you currently support the ecological restoration?
Over the last 5 years, we have implemented over $3 million dollars in restoration projects that have rebuilt miles of streams impacted by mining, including our work with many partners in one of the country’s largest Superfund sites. Our experiences restoring these ecosystems have tremendous local value, but also insights that should be more widely shared with the restoration community. What is the most encouraging thing you see for the future of the ecological restoration field? Ecological Restoration is a positive beacon of possibility that should give people hope! People around the world are walking into degraded landscapes and thoughtfully reversing decades/centuries of ecosystem degradation by highlighting the tremendous regenerative, restorative processes of nature, and how we can properly assist nature in achieving balance. Results from restoration projects are tangible because intact ecosystems resonate with people at a profound level. In a world where forces seemingly out of our control are leading us down paths of conflict, extraction and greed, Ecological Restoration is showing a path forward that can be inclusive, locally adaptable, and tremendously positive for our lands, waters, and spirits. Ecological Restoration is an embodiment and physical manifestation of our core desires to let nature lead and be our mentor, lessons our indigenous elders and ancestors continue to pass on.

How has membership been of value to you and your organization?
I had the pleasure of presenting some of our work at SER Brazil in 2017 and will soon be published again in the journal. The publication, network of practitioners and webinars are great tools for us to stay connected to the broader world of restoration, and in many ways affirms the work we are doing locally in the Big Hole watershed of SW Montana.

This video shows restoration work of Big Hole Watershed Committee. It may be of particular interest to members working in arid montane environments.