Each December Idaho Rivers United pauses to recognize some of the outstanding volunteers whose dedication and selflessness helped make our work shine in the previous year.
To be sure, our work to protect and restore Idaho’s rivers and fish is the product of numerous members and volunteers, and it’s impossible to recognize everyone on an annual basis. However, the six people selected this year have made a particular difference for Idaho’s rivers and are worthy of the end-of-year spotlight.
Caroline Morris and David Monsees
In 2010 Caroline Morris and David Monsees moved cross-country from Washington D.C. to Boise. They were always outdoor enthusiasts, but had never joined a local environmental group until they discovered Idaho Rivers United.
Their introduction to IRU happened at a Boise River Lecture Series. They were impressed by Boise River Campaign Coordinator Liz Paul’s passion and dedication and endeavored to do more. They began volunteering at IRU’s information tables at local events like Bald Eagle Day and Be Outside Day, and quickly became informed about the organization’s campaigns.
Since that early introduction to IRU their interests have expanded to include Idaho’s endangered wild salmon as well.
Beyond their help with public outreach, David’s interest in climate change led him to share IRU’s work on the carbon footprint of water at a Climate Action Day event. And at this summer’s Sawtooth Salmon Festival, both Caroline and David shared their love for Idaho’s rivers and fish with a steady stream of visitors. They have also volunteered at the Auction for the Rivers.
The couple is also involved with other organizations but “Idaho Rivers United will always be number one,” David said.
Boise resident Reed Hollingshead is always willing and eager to lend a hand for Idaho’s rivers.
After first floating the South Fork of the Payette River eight years ago, he recognized that the river is free-flowing because of work done by Idaho Rivers United and its predecessor, Friends of the Payette.
“I appreciated the fact that it is still a free-flowing river,” he said. “I just want to make sure that continues to happen, and I wanted to give back in that way.”
IRU Membership Director Kate Reading said Hollingshead has an uncanny way of coming through in a pinch — and always with an enthusiastically positive attitude.
“He has helped stuff envelopes, call members to invite them to events, man the beer and wine booth at the Sawtooth Salmon Festival and help people get checked in at the annual Auction for the Rivers,” Reading said. “He doesn’t even hesitate. He’s just always there for us.”
Rod Pearce and Jeff Seamons
For more than eight years, Preston, Idaho, residents Rod Pearce and Jeff Seamons have fought tirelessly to prevent construction of an unnecessary dam on the Bear River.
They’ve coordinated local volunteers, participated in state hearings and sifted through reams of government filings. These guys have been neck deep in a very complicated and contentious federal process,” said IRU Conservation Director Kevin Lewis. “In many respects, these guys have been unpaid staff, and for an organization like IRU, they’re involvement is invaluable.”
If constructed, the Bear River Narrows Dam would forever destroy a place that is very special to Rod, Jeff, and their families and friends. It is doubtful that, eight years ago, they had any idea of the magnitude of what they were getting into. Fortunately, they have persevered and, with Idaho’s recent denial of a water right application for the proposed dam, the end of the fight may be near.
“IRU extends our deepest thanks to these two outstanding volunteers for their commitment, dedication, fighting spirit and love for the Bear River,” Lewis said.
Salmon resident Steve Young is becoming a leader in his community for salmon and steelhead recovery.
Last summer, he helped IRU organize events to educate about Idaho’s endangered salmon and the challenges they face, and he helped mobilize his neighbors to take action.
“We have the ability to do something about it, especially right now,” he said about the opportunity to convene stakeholder talks in the region to resolve a 20-year cycle of failure to develop a legal and biologically-sound salmon recovery plan.
Young was born in Salt Lake City and worked as a contractor for 35 years. In 2003 he and his wife, Lynn, bought a ranch in Salmon and lived there part-time until three years ago when they put the ranch in a conservation easement and moved to a nearby place.
“It’s a real honor for me to be recognized like this because we are very concerned about what’s going on,” he said. “And it’s inspiring to listen to other people who are so committed to our wild rivers and wild fish.”