Who are the Friends of the Teton River, and what do they do?
Teton Valley is fortunate to have a number of organizations and non profits who’s sole interest is for the good of our community. Perhaps I will describe some of these other organizations in future columns.
I decided to run this week’s ask the expert about this organization, because they were recently able to help me. I had a question regarding community water systems, and after trying to find the right person to contact with in the Idaho Department of Water Resources, I discovered that FTR knew the answer, and was actually drafting a document to help others with the same question. I met with the organization to get a better understanding of what else they do.
My initial expectation was that everything would be directly related to the Teton River (hence the name). As I listened in during my meeting, I discovered that is mostly true, but the responsibilities of the organization extends far past the River itself.
Some of the main points are stream and fishery restorations, drinking water protection and work related to flood plains and ways.
Some of the areas I wasn’t expecting to see such great effort was related to water rights, and the FTR’s ability to work with other similar organizations to optimize donations made to these organizations collectively. For example, I learned that FTR works closely with the Teton Regional Land Trust. In circumstances where land is donated or otherwise, they are able to work together to make sure that any water rights pertinent to that property are used to the best possible advantage of our streams and waterways. They also work with individual water rights owners for the benefit of both the owner and the organization. There are circumstances where water rights owners want to retain the water right, but need to put the right to good use, which is where FTR can help to ensure that the right is not only being used, but again benefiting our waterways.
Another great resource this organization offers is education. I mentioned above that they were able to help me with something that I was otherwise having difficulty trying to understand. FTR can be used as an excellent resource as a “one stop shop” for anything related to streams, rivers, floodplains, or otherwise. The nice thing is that they always seem to know who to contact and in what department. Nobody has a good understanding of all of these departments such as FEMA, IDWR, DEQ, and more, like they do.
I was of course also interested in how they are funded. They are funded by local donations and organizations, federal and state grants, as well as private, public, and family based foundations.
Friends of the Teton River has so much more to offer than just the above points, and we all benefit from their services in one way or another. I would urge all of you to visit their website at tetonwater.org, and of course make a donation!