Wyoming’s colorful story of water management illuminates the powerful forces that impact water use in the rural American West. The state’s rich history of managing this valuable natural resource provides insights and lessons for the twenty-first-century American West as it faces drought and climate change. ‘Public Waters’ shows how a central idea that has historically structured water management can guide water policy for Western states today. MacKinnon maintains that other Western states should examine how local people control water and that states must draw on historical understandings of water as a public resource to find effective approaches to essential water issues in the West.
Anne MacKinnon has a passion for translating natural resource management issues for general audiences. Having followed the coal industry from Kentucky to Wyoming as a journalist, she has made her home in Wyoming for forty years. Armed with a law degree and eventually a PhD in natural resource economics, she became increasingly interested in how societies in arid places manage a resource as vital and scarce as water. She has organized conferences on water issues, tracked the work of state and tribal boards governing water, served eight years on the Wyoming Water Development Commission, and has been an adjunct professor at the University of Wyoming. She lives in Casper, Wyoming.
Sarah Bates is the Acting Regional Executive Director and Senior Director for Western Water with the National Wildlife Federation’s Northern Rockies, Prairies & Pacific regional office in Missoula, Montana. Sarah brings diverse experience from positions with nonprofits, consulting, and university research centers, and has published books, articles and research reports and taught classes in public lands, water and environmental law. She previously served as president of the Clark Fork Coalition’s governing board, and currently serves on the board of the Montana Watershed Coordination Council.