For our ICL Member Spotlight Series, we sat down with Sarah Plane, ICL member and mobilizer on ICL’s Salmon Mobilization Team, to learn more about what inspires her and what this conservation community means to her. Sarah (She/Her) lives in Boise and works on ICL’s Salmon Mobilization Team, which works to build support for the removal of the four lower Snake River dams to save wild salmon and steelhead and other conservation priorities. Sarah also volunteers on the Board of Wild Hearts Idaho on their Marketing/Outreach Committee and their Programming Committee.
How did you discover the Idaho Conservation League? When did you decide to get involved?
Sarah: I found ICL when I moved back to Boise almost two years ago. I grew up in Boise but have moved around a lot in my young adult life— 29 times to be exact. I like to get involved in the communities I am living in and especially where I can volunteer my time or money to a cause close to my heart. I attended a talk about floating The Owyhees at Idaho River Sports, and it was there that I first got connected with ICL and began volunteering and learning all about the work they are doing across our wonderful state and beyond.
What inspired you to become a member of ICL, and what inspired you to join ICL’s Salmon Mobilization Team?
Sarah: While attending Wild Idaho! 2022, I heard Kurt Tardy of the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes talk about the Pettit Lake Sockeye Salmon Restoration project. Having grown up in Idaho, but not coming from a family of anglers or hunters, I was sad to say this was not a topic I had encountered before yet it seemed like something that every Idahoan should know about. My learning journey with the salmon led me to my favorite animal, the Orca, and in particular the Southern Resident Killer Whales. For me this story is about so much more than the beautiful salmon that spawn in our high mountain lakes and rivers, it is about an entire system of creatures that are knitted together, and if one population is suffering, the impact is felt across species, state lines, cultural territories, oceans, and ecosystems. I knew I had to get more involved to try and help make a difference. I became an ICL member and was so honored to join the 2023 Mobilization Team!
In what ways do you feel your personal passions and ICL’s work fit together? Is there a certain part of ICL’s work that most excites you?
Sarah: I became a member of ICL because I think it is so important to support the causes that align with your values. ICL is made up of amazing hardworking people that are fighting for all of the things that matter most to me: a clean, healthy, publicly accessible environment for us and the animals to enjoy in harmony. I wanted to encourage and support that kind of work, because it is very hard to have hope sometimes when it feels like you are fighting an upstream battle. I don’t think I could pick one of ICL’s campaigns that excites me most, because they are all so important, and I care so deeply about each. That being said, there will always be a special place in my heart for the overlooked creatures and critters of the world, so I was particularly excited when they launched their new wildlife campaign focused on nongame wildlife!
What impact do you feel you are making as an ICL member and mobilizer?
Sarah: It can be easy to feel hopeless at times. Sometimes this kind of passion feels a bit like David fighting against Goliath. However, since becoming an ICL member I have felt a bit like putting your money where your heart is. My husband and I often talk about living our values. How sometimes, with the way our society is built, it can be really difficult to actually live your values; it can feel like a huge sacrifice. Being a member at ICL feels like contributing to the community of people who share my values and will fight for them, no matter the challenge or sacrifice. As a mobilizer I’ve seen firsthand the amount of community members willing to join that fight, and that has renewed my spirit. As someone with less experience in the legislative side of things, I was always a bit skeptical of how much of an impact the people on the ground could have. Being part of the Mobilization Team has quickly taught me that each voice added with the next creates a harmony that can be hard to ignore. It gives me a lot of hope, and encourages me to take more action and be more vocal.
What do you love most about Idaho? What do you hope for the future of Idaho?
Sarah: I’ve had the wonderful privilege to live and travel around the world. I think before I had, I really took the beauty of my home state for granted. I would recall the road trips of my youth driving from Boise to Pocatello where we would count cows and look for out of state license plates. I didn’t grow up exploring the outdoors as much as I would have liked, but as an adult I’ve come to learn how special Idaho is. How rare its wild places are, and how fragile those places can be. I hope for a future of Idaho that values the glorious places that we have, and takes care of the water, land, animals, and climate to ensure those places are around for future generations of both people and animals.
For others who are passionate about conservation in Idaho but unsure how to get involved, what would be your advice or encouragement to them?
Sarah: Come to an event! ICL hosts many public events and talks. Even if the talk isn’t exactly what makes your heart beat, you will be able to meet someone in the organization and sign up to receive more information. Plus, there are usually awesome free stickers and easy ways for you to take action that day!
What do you like to do in your free time?
Sarah: When I’m not working with these amazing non-profits, I enjoy spending time with my amazing husband, training my service dog Harlan, and doing anything that gets me out on the water: paddleboarding, flatwater or ocean kayaking, sailing, and scuba diving are my favorites!