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Environment

Idaho Rivers United Director Steps Down To Spend More Time On The Water

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Idaho Rivers United
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Bill Sedivy and Eddy on the Payette River.

The head of Idaho Rivers United (IRU) is stepping down. Bill Sedivy says after 16 years as executive director of the organization, he wants to spend more time on the rivers and less time in the office.

The non-profit Idaho Rivers United is celebrating 25 years as an advocacy group in the state. It works to protect Idaho’s rivers and fish, and has more than 3,400 members.

Sedivy says it was a love of river rafting that got him involved in protecting rivers in the first place.

“Back in the late 1970’s I feel in love with whitewater rafting and whitewater canoeing,” he says. He was teaching journalism in Utah. “I had summers off and spring break off and I found myself spending all my time in Idaho, paddling and fly fishing.”

He says it was around that time that he realized he needed to start working to protect rivers.

“I had a responsibility. I needed to give something back to the rivers of Idaho, the rivers of America, things that have grown to mean so much to me.”

As Executive Director of IRU, Sedivy fought to protect wild salmon, worked to keep dams off Idaho rivers, and helped protect rivers in the Owyhee Canyonlands. He says he’s most proud of his work on the Owyhee Initiative.

It took eight years of political wrangling with a variety of stakeholders. At times, it looked like there would be no consensus on how to protect the land and the water in the Owyhee Canyonlands.

“But at the end of the day we succeeded in protecting 325 miles of incredibly beautiful desert streams –they’re really unique in the nation – for all time,” says Sedivy.

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Credit Idaho Rivers United
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Idaho Rivers United
Bill Sedivy on the East Fork of the Owyhee.

In 2009, Congress voted to protect 517,000 acres in Idaho as wilderness, creating more than 300 miles of Wild and Scenic Rivers.

Despite his successes, Sedivy says there’s still more work to be done to protect Idaho’s rivers. He says rivers nourish wildlife and plants; provide recreation, a sense of history and culture.

“I worry that those things don’t always get an adequate voice in the debate over how we’re going to use our precious water resources.”

He says climate change is making water supplies less dependable and that puts pressure on those who use rivers.

“Water is a finite resource,” he says, “we need to learn as a society how to become better stewards, how to become smarter users, so that’s a big concern for me.”

Boise resident Mark Blaiser will take over as IRU's new Director. He's a development director at The Cabin and has worked for 15 years in the environmental and non-profit fields.

Sedivy says after he steps down next month, he’ll still work to protect Idaho’s rivers. He plans to spend some time this summer as a river guide, taking other people down the rivers he’s fought to protect.

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Credit Idaho Rivers United
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Idaho Rivers United

Find Samantha Wright on Twitter @samwrightradio

Copyright 2015 Boise State Public Radio

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