I can’t begin to count the ways that ICL can seem like family. For me, the connection spans decades and it’s pretty deep on many levels. For others it’s even deeper.

In late September about 100 of ICL’s "family" gathered in Coeur d’Alene to honor Scott Reed who passed away last year. Scott and Mary Lou Reed were founders of ICL in 1973. For those of us on the staff and board who’ve juggled the balls of running ICL, they were loving parents offering support, advice and encouragement. Mary Lou still is.

ICL executive directors attending the dinner were Marcia Pursley (ICL’s very first staff person), Jeff Fereday, Pat Ford and me. The room was filled with long-time members, personal friends of the Reeds and many board members, as well. Carol Casler, Rick Price, Jerry Pavia and Paul Cunningham were the ICL board presidents attending.

We gathered to celebrate Scott Reed’s contributions to ICL, to conservation, and to living life with spirit-a lesson we can all benefit from. Current board chair Paul Cunningham provided the welcome. Scott and Lou’s son Bruce Reed offered comments clearly demonstrating his father’s trademark humor and wit. Bruce Reed served as an Al Gore speech writer ("helping hone his wooden style of speaking") before also serving as White House staff for both Bill Clinton and Barack Obama.

I had the honor of introducing our keynote, former Interior Secretary and Arizona Gov. Bruce Babbitt. This duty had been tasked to former Interior Secretary and Idaho Gov. Cecil Andrus. Andrus had to cancel for a health reason, but thankfully shared an insight or two I was able to convey. (I also saw Andrus a few days later, looking great and sorry to miss this opportunity to honor both Reed and Babbitt).

Bruce Babbitt’s comments were what you’d expect from one of the nation’s great conservationists. He is still very active in high-level conservation policy. He also had a number of fun stories of being a Western governor from an arid state working with Andrus at Interior.

It is our hope to have create an annual event in Coeur d’Alene to honor the Reed’s contribution to Idaho.

A special highlight of this occasion for me came the next morning. Bruce Babbitt and I took a long hike around Tubbs Hill, an extraordinary protected area right in Coeur d’Alene-protected, in great part, by Scott Reed. As a lifelong conservationist, to spend time with Babbitt was energizing; to do so in this place was an honor.

As I said in my remarks at the dinner, we’ve always viewed the Reeds as parents of the ICL family. I know the four directors present always worked with heart and head to make Scott and Mary Lou Reed proud of the ICL that they helped create and we’re stewarding. But as I said that night, they could never be as proud of ICL as we all are of Scott and Lou’s contributions to ICL, and to conservation and progressive policy for all of Idaho. Many of us began this work to protect special places. We stay in it because of the special people we’ve met and work with.