I moved to Ketchum about six years ago and, up until recently, my motivations for keeping our local, natural world intact were for selfish reasons. And why not? The world-class trout fishing with the majestic Pioneers watching over me was a huge reason I moved here. It didn’t take me long to discover the magic of drift boating down the Salmon River and its pristine tributaries during warm summer days. My wife and I decided that we would never consider moving away.

Now, I have a new reason to fight for keeping our backyard mountains and rivers of the Salmon-Challis National Forest wild and scenic. I want my future son, who will be joining our family in March, to experience these natural beauties as well.

In an ever increasingly “plugged-in” world, our community spirit will be forever lost if we are not able to find reprieve from social media, work emails, tailored advertisements and all the distractions that our connectivity brings. Our Idaho backyard isn’t just an escape for us. It is why we are here. Our public lands anchor our community and our economy. Where would we be without local stores, guide shops and mechanics that provide the tools we need to keep fishing, biking, climbing and skiing in the gorgeous, special places all around us?

To allow our community to thrive, we must support protections for our Idaho backyard, such as Wild and Scenic River designations that would protect the fish, wildlife and watersheds of the Salmon-Challis National Forest for all of us now, for my son, and for all future generations. Conservation ini-

tiatives celebrate the precious resources we enjoy here in the heart of Idaho.

Ben Whipple

Ketchum

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