IRU names 2013 Volunteers of the Year!

The members and supporters of Idaho Rivers United are the organization’s heart and soul. Without support from people like you, we can’t do our work to restore salmon, protect Wild and Scenic Rivers and improve water quality and overall river health.

Every fall we select a handful of river supporters who have gone above and beyond the call of duty and recognize them as Volunteers of the Year. To be sure, there are dozens upon dozens of volunteers and supporters who have made an important difference for Idaho’s rivers and fish this year. But we are particularly proud this year to honor the following five IRU members as our 2013 Volunteers of the Year.

Barb and Gary Lane

Barb and Gary Lane, Riggins.

Gary Lane started his own guide business in Riggins, Idaho, in 1979. In 1998, Gary brought Barb on board and taught her to row and guide. Today, Barb and Gary still own Wapiti River Guides. Barb runs the office while Gary runs the boats.

Barb and Gary, IRU members since 1992, understand that Idaho Rivers United helps keep their business alive by protecting the rivers on which they rely.

“IRU is an organization willing to step up to the establishment. Protecting rivers without IRU involvement would be like managing wildlife refuges without wildlife,” Gary said.

IRU Executive Director Bill Sedivy called Barb and Gary “tremendous advocates” for rivers and fish. They’ve attended nearly every hearing and have and submitted comments on nearly every federal process dealing with salmon recovery for the past two decades. Gary has traveled to Washington DC to educate Congress about wild lands and rivers. They regularly host member gatherings at their place as well.

Sedivy said it can be tough to live in Idaho County and be an outspoken conservationist, but that never stops the Lanes from raising their voices for the cause.

“They are brave people. They have a passion for rivers not shared by all their neighbors. That makes their work all the more incredible,” Sedivy said.

Roger and Janice Inghram

Janice and Roger Inghram, Grangeville.

One evening in early August, when an Omega-Morgan megaload crept its way through the Clearwater-Lochsa Wild and Scenic River corridor, Roger Inghram grabbed his wife, Janice, and his camera, and the two set out hiking a mountainside.

They settled in and waited for the equipment to reach Fish Creek Bridge, where they video recorded the load’s passage to prove the process blocked the road for more than an hour. The load wasn’t allowed to block traffic more than 15 minutes. That work provided important evidence for our ongoing fight against megaloads in the river corridor.

Janice said they got involved with the fight to block megaloads from the Clearwaer-Lochsa Wild and Scenic canyon because such gargantuan equipment has no place in a wild river corridor.  IRU Conservation Director Kevin Lewis appreciates having Roger and Janice on his side.

“They have participated in megaload monitoring efforts that go into the wee hours of the morning in all types of inclement weather,” Lewis said.  Lewis uses Roger’s photographs of the Clearwater and Lochsa river canyon extensively in IRU’s written and electronic communications.

The couple have been IRU members for 16 years now. Roger said he’s proud he was born, raised and lives in Grangeville. He said he laughs when people try to blame environmental work on Californians. “You can’t be more local and native than we are.”

Seth Gowans

Seth Gowans, Boise.

For the past six months, Seth Gowans of Boise has been tromping around his hometown river and its tributaries testing water quality.

Gowans came to IRU interested in getting some hands-on experience just as the organization was working to pilot test a volunteer-run turbidity-testing program.

“I am a believer in community involvement,” Gowans said. “The Boise River is such a mainstay and such a vital part of our community, so I thought it would be great to learn how we interact and work with the river.”

Gowans’ job was to develop a testing program, collect data over the course of the irrigation season, compile the information, and evaluate the potential to get volunteer teams doing this work to quantify heavy sediment loads on a regular basis. He succeeded.

Boise River Campaign Coordinator Liz Paul said Gowans “jumped in with both feet, literally, and tackled this project with high energy and a desire to do right.”

“He squeezed this project into his full-time work schedule, worked with little supervision, and always had a smile on his face,” Paul said.