Voices from the river

Voices from the River: Hometown help

Trout Unlimited staffer Matt Green at the oars in a boat his father built. Courtesy Matt Green.

By Peter Anderson

We live in distressingly fractured times, but Trout Unlimited has worked for years to heal divisions that unfortunately spring up in our community.

There is a watchword for how we work in communities across the nation. It is “collaboration.” It is bred into our bones that what binds us together is a love of fishing; a passion enjoyed by farmers, ranchers, businessmen, politicians, actors, carpenters, musicians, computer scientists, men, women, the young and the old. We have no beef against anybody; we are for fishing.

Trout Unlimited has another secret strength in communities around the country. Many of our staff, and of course our volunteers, work in their hometowns. We know the people in our communities. Our parents and grandparents worked with the parents and grandparents of our collaborative partners. Our staff have been there from their own beginnings.

Staff of the Idaho Water Project provides some examples.

Central Idaho project specialist Cassi Wood grew up in the high desert town of Arco, Idaho.

She still lives in Butte County, caretaking an old ranch property. Her work for TU spans a piece of central Idaho that she camped, fished and hunted in as a child with her family. Both sets of Cassi’s grandparents moved to Arco in the mid 1950s and early 1960s. They were construction families who at various turns helped build the present-day Idaho National Laboratory in the desert outside of Arco, then known as the Atomic Energy Commission facility. Cassi’s grandparents passed down to her parents a love for horses, hunting, fishing and the outdoors.

Cassi’s grandfather, Gene, competing in chariot-racing near Arco, Idaho, in the mid 1960s. Courtesy of Cassi Wood.

Her father also worked at the Idaho National Laboratory, while her mother taught school at Arco Elementary. It often happens that when Cassi’s in town, the people she encounters tell tale of what a rascal her dad was as a youngster and how much they loved her mom as a teacher. Standard summer family get-togethers still include camp-outs, fishing, and boating at Mackay Reservoir with the spectacular Lost River Range looming in the background.

Cassi, 4-years-old, learning to fish in 1989. Courtesy of Cassi Wood.

Matt Green, TU’s Upper Salmon Project Manager, is a native of the small town of Salmon, Idaho.

He descends from parents who grew up as fourth-generation Pocatello, Idaho, residents. Matt’s dad moved to Salmon to teach math and to coach generations of Salmon High School kids for 38 years. Matt’s mom wrangled her kids and maintained a 1920s farm house for Matt, his two siblings and his dad. Matt rafted the main Salmon River for the first time as a 4-year-old with his dad, and guided professionally with him for years. Green family members are fixtures on the rivers near Salmon.

Matt’s family rafting the Salmon River. Courtesy of Matt Green

Matt runs into someone he knows or who knew his dad whenever he goes to the grocery store, and many a rancher has given him the side eye, asking Matt if his dad was that tough math teacher, Frank Green.

Keri York’s hometown is Hailey, Idaho, where she is TU’s Big Wood River Project Manager.

Keri works in the town she grew up in, having attended Wood River High School, graduating in 1997. She left home for school and work, then returned in 2007, sporting undergraduate and graduate degrees in marine fisheries, and work experience with NOAA fisheries on the West Coast. Her father’s family lived and worked on a farm south of Hailey, near Twin Falls. Her dad, Dick York, moved to Ketchum in the early 1970s and ran the only towing business near Sun Valley for 30 years. If you ever slid off Trail Creek Summit near Sun Valley chances are you met Dick when he came to rescue you. The stories about well-liked Dick York are legion and opened many doors for Keri when she started her conservation career in the Wood River Valley.

Keri’s mom, Pati Sprague, escaped the East Coast and ended up in Ketchum where she rented a home from Dick York, her landlord. She helped create the Wood River Head Start program and spent time with the Sawtooth Rangers and Backcountry Horsemen. Keri’s roots are deep and her love for the Valley is strong.

Keri, her parents, and Mackey the dog, somewhere in Idaho. Courtesy of Keri York.

As for me, I’m the fifth generation of my family to live in Boise.

I grew up visiting my grandparents’ farms in Middleton and Eagle, Idaho, where we played in irrigation ditches and learned to set siphon and, unfortunately, learned to dare the shocks of electric fences with cousins.

Bucking hay near Middleton, Idaho. Stackers were Mitchell Anderson and Steve Edquist. Tractor hand was Peter Anderson.

I learned to fish at a time when the weekend activity of choice in Boise was to go camping.

Peter’s grandfather, mother and father camping on the Middle Fork of the Boise River in 1963. Courtesy of Peter Anderson.

I played and fished on the banks of Salmon, Boise and Payette rivers with a large extended family. My grandmother was the supervisor of the fly-tying room at the Glen L. Evans Fishing Tackle Company in Caldwell, Idaho. She was driven there from her farm every morning by my grandfather. As with most old time Idahoans, I can usually find a family, friend or work connection with other Idaho old timers.

The state was just that small even 30 years ago.

Peter Anderson works as counsel for Trout Unlimited’s Idaho Water Project. He is based out of Boise.

By Brett Prettyman.