These are questions that are best answered by a hydrologist and a climatologist. I am neither, but I am a geologist. Having gone through the UM geology department my understanding is that Missoula is in no danger of having a water shortage similar to the Desert West that you speak of. There are water wars raging in the West but not here in the Missoula Valley. The climate models that I have seen coming from the only person I know that is qualified to answer these questions (Steve Running) seem to show a warmer and wetter future for us if they show any changes at all. Arguments for efficiency of use always have merit but this is a question of dollars and sense and not of water shortage.
I am not sure the comparison of NM. or NV. are relevant to Missoula. We are not currently in a water shortage or close to one. The models I have seen do not put us in one in the future so I am not sure this concern is one past people simply wasting their money on green lawns.
Maybe the Independent should look deeper into this question and get some answers from the experts?
Sincerely....one who is admittedly not an expert.
The Forest Service will happily trade our public land to timber companies to have the trees cleared and roads punched into it. Yet they will not allow us to have a trail that is downhill/freeride specific. A road lasts a lifetime and a trail will go away in a couple years if it is not used.
With proper oversight and some trail building standards Missoulians could finally have a trail/area that we could put effort and love into without fear. This would be a wonderful thing that everyone could enjoy. Tell the Forest Service that this is something that should be done and we can make it happen. Without public pressure they will continue to silence the biking community and keep us hiding in the mountains.
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