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Place, Mission, Vision

Photo Credit: Harvey Dale

The Place

The Sawtooth Society was founded in 1997 by a group of dedicated supporters of the Sawtooth National Recreational Area (SNRA) – a majestic 756,000-acre expanse in Central Idaho that encompasses the Sawtooth and Cecil D Andrus Boulder-White Clouds Wilderness areas. The SNRA boasts over 900 miles of trails, 40 peaks rising over 10,000 feet, and more than 300 alpine lakes that add to the area’s spectacular scenery and vistas. The city of Stanley sits squarely within the boundaries of the SNRA, and the Wood River Valley, which includes Sun Valley, is within easy driving distance from the south.

The Mission

From the outset, the mission of the Sawtooth Society has been to preserve, protect, and enhance the special qualities of the SNRA. Over the years, this mission has been fulfilled through advocacy, enhancing the SNRA’s recreation facilities and services, and facilitating stewardship of and volunteer programs in the SNRA.

Photo Credit: Harvey Dale

The Vision

The vision of the Sawtooth Society’s founders was a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that would work in concert with, but independently of, the U.S. Forest Service staff responsible for managing the public lands within the SNRA and enforcing the special rules and regulations associated with the area’s National Recreation Area designation. The founders also envisioned that the organization would work in cooperation with other environmental and recreational groups in the area, as well as, state and local governments and governmental agencies, private businesses, and individual property owners.

Today, these priorities remain at the heart of all Sawtooth Society activities.

Stanley Basin | Stanley Idaho | Sawtooth Mountains | Sawtooth Society

History & Purpose

At the time of the Sawtooth Society’s founding, a major threat had arisen in the Stanley Basin: a highly visible and unapproved 160-acre subdivision. The Society advocated for an end to the project and subsequently urged Congress to appropriate $17 million to the U.S. Forest Service for the purchase of scenic/conservation easements protecting this land in perpetuity.

Photo Credit: Harvey Dale

Since then, the Sawtooth Society has focused its work in the following areas to help improve Idaho through recreation:


  • Mobilize policymakers and the public to address threats facing the SNRA
  • Help develop and implement management plans for SNRA Wilderness Areas
  • Encourage inconspicuous development within the SNRA
  • Provide information on the Sawtooth Mountains


  • Support U.S. Forest Service efforts to design, build, and fund the Stanley to Redfish Lake trail
  • Distribute monies from the sale of Idaho Mountain Goat License Plates to fund projects that enhance recreation in the SNRA
  • Coordinate miles of trail clearing, restoration, maintenance, and construction every summer


  • Secured $17 million in federal funds to purchase conservation easements in the SNRA
  • Played a pivotal role in securing Wilderness protection for the Boulder-White Clouds Mountains
  • Published “What Works,” a document that clarifies private land regulations


  • Co-led the current Sawtooth Valley Wildland Fire Collaboration to preserve Idaho forests
  • Oversee the Austin Kraal Memorial Volunteer Program, involving youth in SNRA preservation, improvement, and stewardship
  • Coordinated volunteer projects including over 13,000 hours of labor clearing more than 4,900 trees from 612 miles of trails since 2014