Stacy McPhail was appointed to the UGRWCD Board of Directors in June 2018 representing the Ohio Creek sub-basin (Division 6). Stacy currently serves as the Vice President of the Board. Her term expires in 2022.
Stacy hails from Texas originally, so when she moved to the Gunnison Valley with her husband, Eric, and children in 2006, she saw the contrast when it comes to the importance that water plays in the area. “In Texas, it was not uncommon to get 40 inches of rain in an average year and there was always a concern for flooding,” said Stacy. “Here at the headwaters, I have learned how dependent we are on our rivers and streams to meet our water needs and I want to be a good steward of for all our water interests.” In particular, Stacy felt she could serve as a voice for agricultural water users in the District, which compelled her to apply for the board vacancy in 2018.
“One of the messages I hope to convey as a Board member is the importance of water storage in times of drought and population growth,” Stacy said. “It is not just about the storage our reservoirs provide, but also the important role that agricultural irrigation ditches and stream diversions play in slowly releasing that water supply back to the stream system throughout the water year for the benefit of the fishery, drinking water supplies, wildlife habitat, recreation, etc.”
Stacy explained that one of the big challenges that the District faces is the concept of “agricultural demand management,” which involves a water right holder voluntarily and temporarily electing to limit, reduce or completely forego irrigation while being compensated in order to prevent involuntary curtailment. “As a District Board member, I see one of my main roles as actively addressing issues like demand management or any future water policies that might affect or limit the use or function of water in the District. With our location here at the headwaters, we have to pay attention to the big picture as there are many downstream water users that are affected by policies within the District and the entire State.”
Stacy also serves as the executive director of the Gunnison Ranchland Conservation Legacy (GRCL). Through her work with both the GRCL and the District, she uses her background in production agriculture to collaborate with ranchers and landowners on conservation measures, and “drought” is always a topic of concern. In agriculture, Stacy says, “You plan for a normal (water) year, but we have yet to have one!” She feels that dry conditions in the District are likely to be a persistent problem going forward, but believes we have the ability through research and development to adapt to the “new normal” conditions. Her bigger concern is population growth we are seeing across the state and whether we can adapt quickly enough to enable our water resources to meet growing water needs. “The scarcity of water resources in the District and in our State will be an ongoing issue.”
Stacy said she is proud of the strides the District has made in the watershed management planning process and feels the measures the District has taken directly address scarcity of water resources.
When not working for the GRCL or District, you’ll find Stacy “mothering” two teenage boys and a teenage goddaughter, along with an array of horses, goats and chickens. Stacy also enjoys all things outdoors, including hiking, skiing and biking.
“Director McPhail is an invaluable asset to our organization for many reasons, but most importantly because of her strong basin-wide water resource knowledge and work with the agricultural community. In addition, her leadership and engagement with and support of the entire Watershed Management Planning Team has been a huge lift and we’re so appreciative.”