This year’s Teton Agriculture and Farm Tour, hosted by the Teton Agriculture & Ranching Resource, Friends of the Teton River, the Teton Regional Land Trust, and the University of Idaho Teton County Extension, seemed to have a theme that was conveniently echoed by the weather: water.
The day was hot and sunny when almost 100 participants boarded school buses at the Teton County Fairgrounds, but halfway through the tour the temperature dropped, thunder rumbled, and the skies opened up.
Before the rain began, the buses wound their way down the valley and stopped at a southern Teton River site. Lindsay Markegard with the Natural Resources Conservation Service explained a significant stream and bank restoration project on a section of the Teton. The before and after shots were striking; in 2013 the bank was falling away, muddy, and pockmarked by hooves. Now the bank is returned to its natural state and verdant with riparian plants.
Then, a bit farther south and east, Darryl Johnson, the county public works director, showed the crowd the difference just a year can make for a waterway. When the county rebuilt W6000S, wetland mitigation was required. With the approval of the landowner and working with the Idaho Soil and Water Conservation Commission and Aqua Terra, the county realigned a section of Fox Creek, removing it from a rocky canal along the road and turning it back into a healthy, meandering creek.
It was raining in earnest when the tour attendees began to hike up a private gravel road on the south side of the valley. They stopped at the intake structure where water flows from Trail Creek and Game Creek and John Winger, the president of the Trail Creek Sprinkler Irrigation Company, explained how irrigation and water rights impact farmers served by the company.
The tour also visited the Piquet Ranch, where Robert and Morgan Piquet described their method of grazing management that greatly improves the health of the soil as well as the cattle, and Full Circle Farm, where Erika Eschholz and Ken Michael explained the holistic systems of agriculture that they use at the biodynamic-certified farm.