Stories for Action

Life in the Land: Big Hole Valley; Eric Thorson (fly fishing guide), Liz Jones (rancher)

June 3, 2022

The communities of the Big Hole Valley depend on the economies of ranching and fly fishing. In this episode, we hear from two members of the Big Hole Watershed Committee from each of those industries.

Eric Thorson owns Sunrise Fly Shop in Melrose, MT and speaks to the significance of fly fishing in the Big Hole as an economic driver and a catalyst for conservation. He also speaks to the impacts on the fishery from a changing climate.

Liz Jones is a rancher in Wise River, MT and was a founding member of the Watershed Committee. She speaks to the changes she has seen in the Valley as well as what the drought and fires of 2021 meant for ranchers.

Both Eric and Liz speak to the value and urgency in different perspectives coming together for the betterment of all life in the Valley that depend on the Big Hole River and its tributaries. The Big Hole Watershed Committee creates a space for that to happen, and can serve as a model for other watersheds to utilize this holistic, community driven approach.

Big Hole Watershed Committee

Sunrise Fly Shop

This episode is part of the Life in the Land project, which is a series of films and podcasts produced by Stories for Action, which hears from folks that interact with the complexities of Montana's landscapes, speaking to the value of locally-led work and the holistic approaches needed for the health of communities and the ecosystems they're a part of. Find out more about the project and watch the films at

Stories for Action holds a mission to use the power of storytelling to create human connection and advance a thriving planet for all.  Follow along on our Instagram and Facebook: @StoriesforAction

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