We are celebrating 25 years of our mission to preserve, protect, and enhance the Sawtooth National Recreation Area. At its inception, an inspired group of men and women had a vision for how to address ongoing concerns of the Sawtooth NRA. Led by Bethine Church, a champion of natural areas and resources, she founded the Sawtooth Society, working with Congress to appropriate almost $10 million towards conservation efforts to protect the SNRA from urban development.
Over the past 25 years, the Society has celebrated securing Wilderness protection for the Boulder-White Cloud Mountains and avoided a problematic National Monument. In addition, it successfully worked to lessen budget cuts and addressed the risk of catastrophic fires, including co-leading the current Sawtooth Valley Wildland Fire Collaborative. Working alongside the Forest Service, a “lessons learned” book based on 40+ years of experience was also created. A broad stakeholder-based, long-range strategic planning effort, (the Sawtooth Vision 20/20) was developed to identify risks and opportunities facing the Sawtooth NRA.
In recent years, the group has adjusted to the impacts of an ongoing population boom. Rehabilitating and improving popular trail systems has become a priority. Equally important, the Society has maintained an ongoing relationship with the Idaho Forest Service, enabling them to collaborate on specific issues, projects, and concerns with a growing population.
The Sawtooth Society’s mountain goat license plate program, has funded more than 230 recreation enhancement projects of all types. This year, the plate reached a milestone of one million dollars granted. Through organized programs, it has led scores of stewardship enhancement projects with numerous partner groups and hundreds of volunteers, many with youth under the banner of the Austin Kraal Memorial Volunteer Program—a central part of the Society’s core work.
“Our accomplishments over these past 25 years are significant, and we celebrate them,” said Sawtooth Society President Kathryn Grohusky. “However, with the increase in visitors to the SNRA every year, our work is more critical than ever. We must continue to strive and inspire new generations to preserve, protect, and enhance the Sawtooth NRA for the future. This is a unique and special place, and being an advocate for it is a role that is becoming even more critical. It is the Society’s greatest desire to ensure that all visitors will enjoy the Sawtooth NRA for many more decades to come”.
For more information, visit www.sawtoothsociety.org