Big news! Our very own Jen Downing, Executive Director of the Big Hole Watershed Committee for the last 6+ years, has been awarded the 2019 Montana Watershed Stewardship Award! This is a big deal – the award is only given out every other year to two individuals and/or groups out of the whole state – and boy does Jen deserve it!

In her time with BHWC, Jen has significantly improved the operating capacity of BHWC, built community relationships, updated our bylaws, increased our staff size, updated & implemented the Big Hole River drought plan, worked to coordinate & oversee the massive restoration efforts on Mount Haggin (along with several of our partners), pushed for legislation to figure out stream gage funding, and so much more. She’s also been a great friend & mentor to so many of us, and we’re thrilled that she was selected for this prestigious award as she prepares to depart from our organization.

To see Jen accept the award in person, join us this Monday, January 28th from 5:30-8:00pm at the Montana Historical Society in Helena (right next to the Capitol).

The press release from the Montana Watershed Coordination Council is as follows:

Contact: Terri Nichols
Phone: (406) 475.1420

Big Hole Watershed Leader To Receive Watershed Stewardship Award

HELENA, MT, January 23 — Jennifer Downing is a champion of the Big Hole watershed in southwest Montana – and of collaboration to benefit watershed communities statewide. As executive director of the Big Hole Watershed Committee (BHWC) for the past eight-and-a-half years, she has worked to build and sustain the relationships that protect Montana’s natural resources.

In honor of Jennifer’s contributions, the Montana Watershed Coordination Council (MWCC) will present her with its 2019 Watershed Stewardship Award on January 28, at 5:30 pm at the Montana Historical Society in Helena. The family of Tom Henderson, a hydrogeologist with the Montana Department of Environmental Quality who led the cleanup of mining wastes before dying unexpectedly in October 2018, will also receive a Watershed Stewardship Award on his behalf. Lt. Governor Mike Cooney will present the awards.

Since 1999, MWCC has been honoring individuals and groups providing innovative, locally led approaches to conserving, protecting, restoring, and enhancing watersheds in Montana. Watershed Awardees inspire others working collaboratively on watershed health statewide, since they exemplify the community-based and inclusive Watershed Approach to conservation.

During her time in the Big Hole, Jennifer has worked with landowners, community members, and state and federal agencies to update and implement the Big Hole Drought Management Plan, which allows communities to plan for and respond to changes in water availability. She also guided regional drought resiliency planning as chair of the Missouri Headwaters Partnership, and she led restoration efforts within the headwaters of the Big Hole to create quality habitat for sustaining a population of fluvial Arctic Grayling.

At the state level, Jennifer has supported better coordination for watershed organizations across Montana and has worked to ensure lasting funding to sustain Montana’s network of stream gages. She served as an MWCC Board member through 2018.

“Jennifer has gone beyond her duties as an Executive Director to be a champion of watersheds and collaboration in the Upper Missouri and statewide,” according to the Watershed Stewardship Award Selection Committee.

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