Natalie Swope ’24
Water Conservation Through Landscape Design in the Upper Gallatin River Watershed
Certificate(s): Environmental Studies
I worked to advance Gallatin River Task Force’s (GRTF) recently developed Big Sky Water Conservation and Drought Management Plan. This plan is a community initiative to protect the streams and tributaries within the Upper Gallatin River Watershed, safeguard the community’s drinking water supply, and build resilience to climate change. I began by researching existing initiatives in similar communities and best practices around integrating water efficiency into land use planning. I compiled data from local stakeholders to document challenges and identify opportunities for further collaboration with GRTF. I drafted new landscape design guidelines for two homeowner’s associations; these guidelines incorporate principles from water wise, fire wise, and native plant land use design. GRTF will use my draft to create a set of comprehensive guidelines that any homeowner or homeowner association in Big Sky can adopt. I learned a lot about water supply and demand in a headwaters community, as well as factors that will influence both in the future. I also had the opportunity to engage with other facets of the organization, including fundraising, community outreach, and river algae monitoring. This was an amazing opportunity, and I plan to continue to study questions in water resource management in the future.
Water and the Environment
Gallatin River Task Force - Big Sky, Montana
Emily O’Connor, Conservation Director, Gallatin River Task Force