Andrew Dana considers himself, and the rest of the family partnership which manages a large landholding south of Livingston, to be "dedicated conservationists." In 1982, his parents put much of their riverbank property into a conservation easement to protect it from future development and subdivision. Dana sees himself as being "sympathetic and active" on behalf of the environment.
In 1989, his family was honored
as Landowners of the Year by Trout Unlimited, and they have
received other, similar recognition as exemplary
He remembers earlier flooding in the
"70s, before the era of permitting, when his family was encouraged
to "riprap the hell out of the banks." Sections of their riverbank
property are lined with riprap several decades old, along with a
dike that goes back 50 years. "People who talk about the natural
state of the Yellowstone ignore the long history of human
manipulation that exists along the river."
"the river came unglued" during the recent flood years, said Dana,
"we came within hours of losing Nelson Spring Creek." After that,
engineers hired by the family advised them that even moderate
flooding would wipe out the spring creek, which provides valuable
trout spawning habitat, critical irrigation water, and important
With what he considered to be
a carefully thought-out design in hand, Dana initiated the
permitting process with the Army Corps of Engineers. The sequence
that followed, he said, was "like a bad dream." For months, the
corps wouldn't respond, or dragged the process out, or kept asking
for more information, or blatantly delayed and ignored the
Dana suggested that after the
initial spate of permits during the floods, and the ensuing
criticism of the corps, it became much more difficult to get
anywhere with permits. "If there wasn't a formally stated
moratorium, there certainly seemed to be an informal one."
When Dana couldn't get a permit after months of
effort, he resorted to a fallback compromise, which amounted to
augmenting and adding to the existing riprap along the banks. "It
was not the best solution," reported Dana, "but it was what we were
Even that project required some
"serious arm-twisting, along with enlisting the support of a
congressional delegation" before a permit was finally
Dana argues that most landowners along
the river value the landscape. "It's why they live here," he said.
But he warned that there is a "substantial level of landowner
fatigue building. A lot of the burden is falling on property
owners. The demands are pretty extreme. It's certainly not business
as it used to be."