Idaho’s guides welcome IRU education effort this spring

Natalie Shellworth prepares materials for a presentation in north Idaho.

I saw just about every side of Idaho and its colorful, wonderful rivers this spring. I also met with hundreds of Idaho’s most able and adept river educators: the guides who lead visitors down the Salmon, Middle Fork of the Salmon, Selway, Lochsa, St. Joe and other amazing rivers. 

Collectively, Idaho’s river guides will talk with thousands of visitors over the course of the paddling season. With Idaho’s incredible rivers as their classrooms, guides are extremely well positioned to educate and motivate people to take action on behalf of Idaho’s wild rivers and native fish.

IRU has been talking with river guides for the past 15 years about the key role they play in helping preserve and protect our natural resources. Generally speaking, this job has meant talking about Idaho’s endangered salmon and steelhead, but this year I broadened the presentation to also include the history of the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act and its distinct connection to Idaho salmon recovery.

Traveling Idaho to meet with the state’s hard-working river guides was extremely rewarding. Even more rewarding was considering how the information I shared might find its way into direct political action on behalf of our Wild and Scenic Rivers or wild salmon. 

The thing I found most gratifying, however, was being reminded just how committed to Idaho’s natural resources Idaho’s river guides and river companies are. These folks aren’t just the most well positioned in Idaho to talk about wild rivers and wild fish; they are the best people and organizations to do this work, period. And it all boils down to their contagious passion for Idaho’s rivers.

While it was my job to travel the state and carry IRU’s message, the real work is being done every day by Idaho’s amazing outfitters and guides. I want to take a moment to thank the following companies, which welcomed me with open arms and are helping spread the word about salmon, steelhead and wild rivers:

Thanks as well to the Idaho River Rendezvous, an annual spring conference for guides, held in Stanley this year, for inviting IRU to present. And the list of motivated, engaged, active river outfitters doesn't stop there.

The IRU guide education program is designed to give guides the information and education materials they need to share with guests on the rivers, but the real beneficiaries will be future generations of Americans who visit Idaho to discover that an amazing place teeming with wilderness and wild fish has been restored and protected.