(STANLEY) The Idaho Conservation League wrapped up its 34th annual Wild Idaho! conference at Redfish Lake Lodge over the weekend with two senior members of Idaho’s congressional delegation sharing their thoughts on ongoing conservation efforts.

The meeting attracted nearly 200 people and raised more than $103,000 in donated funds to aid ICL’s work. Talks by conservation experts and staff members covered such topics as climate change, public lands, water quality, and salmon and steelhead restoration.  

To mark the tenth anniversary of the legislation protecting the Owyhee Canyonlands, ICL presented Sen. Mike Crapo with a letter of gratitude signed by Owyhee Initiative members for his championing of the effort. The legislation came about from the Owyhee Initiative agreement which aims to resolve wilderness, access and other issues affecting public lands in the Canyonlands and the communities that depend on them. The legislation designated 517,000 acres of the Canyonlands and surrounding sagebrush steppe as wilderness and protected 316 miles of waterways under the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act.

“The ten-year anniversary of the passage of the Owyhee Initiative legislation is a good reminder of the success of collaboration,” Sen. Crapo noted.

Rep. Mike Simpson congratulated ICL’s outgoing executive director Rick Johnson on his upcoming retirement by presenting him with a copy of the May 15, 2019 speech he entered into the Congressional Record recognizing Johnson’s conservation work.

“Rick wasn’t a partner in crime, he was a partner in conservation,” Simpson noted in his speech.

ICL’s incoming executive director Justin Hayes said, “Rick’s day-to-day leadership will be missed. During this time of transition, I’m very humbled by ICL’s board placing their trust in me to lead ICL as we continue to move forward to protect Idaho’s air, water, public lands, and fish and wildlife for all Idahoans.”

The informal theme of the conference emphasized collaborative conservation, working with interested stakeholders and local people to find a way to protect wild Idaho while also supporting ways to grow Idaho’s economy and maintain its exceptional quality of life.