Boise River: Source to Snake
Swain in Boise.jpg

We look forward to introducing you all to Christopher Swain! He is a renowned swimmer and water quality advocate and is the first person in history to swim the Hudson River, Lake Champlain and the entire 1,243 miles of the Columbia River from British Columbia to the Pacific Ocean. Swain swims to put threatened waterways squarely in the public eye, and to support water protection, restoration and education efforts. This summer, Idaho Business for the Outdoors is bringing Christopher Swain to swim the Boise River: Source to Snake.

Idaho Business for the Outdoors created this water journey to identify our river’s challenges, and to celebrate the ecological, economic and social value it provides to the many communities it sustains. Swain will start his Idaho expedition by swimming across Redfish Lake to access the trailhead to Spangle Lake, the source water for the Boise River, situated high in the Sawtooth Mountains. Idaho Business for the Outdoors will citizen scientists and support crew to join Swain and document the journey as he travels from Redfish Lake to Spangle Lake, down to Atlanta, Arrowrock, Lucky Peak, Boise and all the way to Parma where the Boise River connects with the Snake River.

Along the way, Swain will be gathering baseline data on water quality, sharing his location, personal physiology and water quality data through social media and through IBO’s mobile app. Swain will also attend community engagement events, and meet high school students from Idaho City, Mountain Home, Boise, Caldwell, Eagle and Parma. Student workshops will be inspired by the Clean Water Act and facilitated with our community partners along the river. They will focus on fishable, swimmable and drinkable water quality standards, as well as the economic and health benefits of our outdoors.

Join us this summer as we celebrate the Boise River, a resource we all share. Help us raise river quality and quantity awareness and together we will work to sustain healthy, prosperous communities along the Boise River watershed for years to come! Swain visited us earlier this month. Here are some media links we wanted to share with all of you:

Stand With Our Public Lands
View from Chocolate Gulch

View from Chocolate Gulch

Who: Senate Resources and Environment Committee
What: Hearing on H 162 "Federal Lands Council" bill
When: Monday, March 11, 2019
Where: Capitol Building, Lincoln Auditorium (WW02)

CALLING ALL BUSINESS MEMBERS, SUPPORTERS and FRIENDS: Two years ago, Idahoans came together from across the state to join the largest public lands rally in the west. The message was clear - our public lands sustain us, our businesses and our quality of life. Many of you live and work in Idaho because of our access to public lands. You enjoy recreation on public lands: hunting, fishing, hiking, snowmobiling, boating and biking. You graze your animals on public lands. Or, your very livelihood depends on public land access and the health of our outdoors. What's clear this year, is our public lands need you now, more than ever.

On Monday, the Idaho State Senate's Resources and Environment Committee will be hearing H 162 in the Lincoln Auditorium (WW02), a bill that could have far reaching implications for the future and continuance of public lands in our state. It has already passed the House and needs to be stopped in the Senate. H 162, introduced by Judy Boyle (R-Midvale), seeks to establish a permanent "Federal Lands Council." The last time this kind of committee was formed the intention was to demand that the federal government transfer all public lands to the state (which we know historically results in land sales, privatization and lack of access).

The very same people who led that effort are behind this bill. NOTE: H 162 claims to seek a closer relationship with the federal government. There are nearly a dozen other state agencies and offices already in place to do this. We do not support legislators attempting to create a public lands takeover committee funded by Idaho taxpayers in perpetuity. The bill's language gives the Council power to "hire legal counsel" and mandates that they "shall facilitate contracts." These sweeping authorities are the job of our executive branch and unnecessary if H 162 is really about cooperating with our federal land managers. Tasking this kind of committee with facilitating contracts duplicates services already being done and is not fiscally sound.

We need YOU to join us at the hearing to show lawmakers that we stand up for our public lands (with wide bi-partisan support).

The hearing gets starts at 1:00 p.m. in the Lincoln Auditorium (WW02), but we encourage you to arrive early to be seated. Our presence sends a resounding nonpartisan message to members of the committee that Idaho supports its public lands. It will take all of us!

Please note, no signs will be allowed in the hearing room and everyone must be seated.

Idaho Business for the Outdoors is a united, nonpartisan business coalition supporting the economic and quality of life advantages our public lands and outdoors sustain.

State-Specific Outdoor Rec. Data Is Needed In Idaho

As a coalition of Idaho’s leading businesses and innovators, IBO believes our public lands, farms, ranches and outdoors are vital to our quality of life and our state economy. Our scenic bike trails, rivers, lakes and mountains are our playground. Our working farms and ranches help put food on our tables. Our outdoors are a valuable marketing tool for Idaho businesses trying to attract and retain skilled employees who could live anywhere.  

Photo by Trina Benson

Photo by Trina Benson

While scenic trails, rivers, parks, lakes and mountains are our playground and support public health, the total economic value of our outdoors remain largely unmeasured and undervalued in Idaho.  Nationally, the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) published its first report in February of 2018, showing how outdoor pursuits like skiing, biking and boating, as well as the tech, innovation and gear companies that support these pursuits, help drive the U.S. economy.  

  • Our U.S. recreation economy accounted for 2.0 percent ($373.7 billion) of current-dollar GDP in 2016  

This initial outdoor recreation satellite account does not measure the value of outdoor recreation by state. We need this kind of state-specific data in Idaho, as well as the engagement of a broader set of stakeholders as we try to advocate for the total value of our public lands and outdoors.

The historical lack of detailed state-specific data regarding outdoor recreational activities continues to handicap Idaho, our private and public sector, as well as our state overall. With an abundance of outdoor amenities and public lands (63%), our Idaho way-of-life and diverse state economy depends on our ability to maintain our lands and waters. IBO creates a strong and diverse business voice to support research that measures the value of our outdoors in supporting investments, jobs, innovations, revenues and wellness benefits.  More data helps us plan, grow, and properly fund the outdoors as a dynamic and vital part of our Idaho economy. 

Heather Parkinson Dermott
CHALLENGE your co-workers, friends and family!

Dear Members and Friends,

It's getting close. We'll even let you start early.
February 14 - CHALLENGE ON!  

Show your LOVE for Idaho's outdoors and reap the health benefits of time outside! Invite your employees, customers and friends to take it outside every day. Whether it’s a walk, a run, a bike ride, a trip to the park with your kids, a nordic ski, quiet time sitting on your porch, or simply walking to the mailbox each day - COUNT IT! We often take our outdoors for granted in Idaho, but sometimes we need a reminder of how lucky we are to live in the outdoor state. Let’s celebrate and capture our daily outdoor adventures.

Let one outdoor adventure inspire another! GET OUTSIDE DAILY in 2019 and post a pic. of your outdoor adventure on Instagram with the hashtag: #idahooutside365

On Instagram just add this hashtag to your photos: #idahooutside365


WHY?  Time outdoors boosts mental health, reduces stress, improves concentration and creativity. Studies show it’s one of the best ways to prevent and treat many illnesses. Access to nature is starting to be recognized as a social determinant of health.

(Follow me: @idahobusinessforoutdoors) A year from today we’ll give a shout-out to those who achieved 365 days, and to any of you who got anywhere close. Keep in mind, it’s never too late to join this CHALLENGE!

Who’s in?! :)

  • Thank you for supporting and helping to protect our public lands and waters!

New Public Meeting for CuMo Mine Scheduled

USDA Forest Service will hold one public meeting during the current 30-day Notice and Comment Period for the CuMo Exploration Project which closes on February 22, 2019.

When:  February 6, 2019 from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m.
Where:  Best Western Plus - Vista Inn at the Airport, 2645 Airport Avenue, in Boise, Idaho.  

The public meeting will be conducted in an open house format with the overall goal to share with the public the current supplemental environmental analysis.

To comment on the project via the webpage:
To comment on the project by email:

Please include “CuMo Exploration Project” in the subject line of the email.

Fore more information on this exploration project, please see our recent blog posts below.

Heather Parkinson Dermott
January 9, 2019 Forest Service Meeting on CuMo Canceled!

Due to the government shut down, the Forest Service has unfortunately canceled a public meeting scheduled for Jan. 9 to provide information on the CuMo Project and environmental assessment. We will continue to provide updates if the meeting is rescheduled before the end of the 30 day public comment period.

Comment on Project by email:

Thank You!

Heather Parkinson Dermott
You are Needed: Public Meeting on CuMo Mine

WEDNESDAY JANUARY 9, 2019: Public Meeting (drop-in, open-house style) 5:00 - 7:00pm at the Best Western Vista Inn at the Airport, 2645 Airport Ave, Boise, ID

It’s hard to get your head around the size, and sheer magnitude, of a project that could create one of the largest open-pit mines in the world in our Boise National Forest, along the headwaters of the Boise River. These are our public lands. We need our business members and friends engaged! The U.S. Forest Service is once again taking comments and holding public meetings regarding the proposed exploratory drilling project at the Idaho CuMo Corp.’s mining claim site, situated near Grimes Creek.

Gettty Image of an open-pit mine.

Gettty Image of an open-pit mine.

Grimes Creek flows into Lucky Peak Reservoir and is part of the Boise River watershed which supplies valuable irrigation and drinking water to surrounding communities, as well as parts of Boise. The current CuMo exploratory drilling project being considered by the Forest Service would create about 13 miles of new roads, and allow the use of about 5 miles of existing unauthorized roads to reach up to 122 drill pads within the 2,885-acre site. On the CuMo website they state: “Currently, Idaho CuMo Mining Corporation is advancing its CuMo Project towards feasibility and its goal is to establish itself as one of the world’s largest and lowest-cost primary producers of molybdenum.”

Idaho CuMo Mining Corp., a subsidiary of a Canadian based mining company, says they intend to hire 50-60 local workers and spend $100 million – money that will benefit local families and economies during this exploratory drilling project. As a nonpartisan business voice in support of the advantage Idaho's preserved outdoors and public lands represent to our state and economy, Idaho Business for the Outdoors (IBO) does consider the economic value a mining project on public lands represents to our state, as well as our rural communities. However, this project will limit access to public lands, decrease outdoor recreation and its associated revenues (which represent 2.3 billion in wages and salaries to Idaho, according to the Outdoor Industry Association), pose risks to wildlife and threaten air, land and water quality in surrounding areas and beyond.

Federal Courts have sent this project back for environmental review twice on account of insufficient environmental analysis. U.S. District Judge Edward J. Lodge ruled in 2012 that the Forest Service acted arbitrarily and capriciously by approving the CuMo Exploration Project without first examining potential groundwater contamination. In his opinion he cautioned, “The very nature of drilling holes 1,500 to 3,000 feet into the ground seems likely to impact the underlying surface including groundwater. . . .  These are significant environmental concerns”. Again in 2016, Advocates for the West, sued faulting the Forest Service for approving the CuMo Exploration Project without taking sufficient steps to protect water quality and rare flower habitat.

IBO remains concerned about the size of this project and its associated risks. The threat a mining disaster would present to our Boise River watershed, public lands, public health and economy could be devastating. It is also unlikely the costs of a mining disaster could be mitigated through the $300,000 bond CuMo has provided to cover the planned exploratory drilling to protect the taxpayers from footing the bill for any cleanup. Please join us on January 9, from 5-7p.m. at the Best Western Vista Inn at the Airport to learn more about the US Forest Service’s latest environmental assessment and to voice your concerns.

Cell Phone Addiction, Chronic Disease and the Nature RX

Day 2: SHIFT—Public Lands/Public Health


Frustrated with his inability to affect behavior change in the clinical setting, Dr. David Sabgir a cardiologist from Columbus Ohio, decided he would invite his patients to go for a walk with him. To his surprise, over 100 people showed up on a Saturday morning in the spring of 2005, energized and ready to move. Now he leads a global program, with over 400 chapters worldwide, thats success can be traced back to this first walk he took with patients. However, Dr. Sabgir isn’t alone in his frustration to affect behavior change in the clinical setting, or in his willingness to turn to the outdoors to change behavior. Health systems, physicians and land managers from across the country gathered in Jackson Hole, Wyoming for the 2018 SHIFT festival: Public Lands/Public Health to explore the role nature and our outdoors might play in supporting individual health and community health.

There are officially more mobile devices than people in the world today. The average adult spends ten hours behind a screen, we were told at this year’s SHIFT Conference. As parents, we fight for our kids’ attention, competing with their screens in our own homes. Charges abound that our phones are crowding out physical interactions and increasing feelings of social isolation and depression. Compounding this problem is the understanding that sedentary lifestyles and chronic disease are increasing, while many people’s quality and quantity of life are decreasing. Heart disease and other chronic diseases are the leading cause of death and disability in the United States. How do we improve population and community health and wellness? There was mounting evidence and countless testimonials from patients, doctors, nature lovers, and outdoor enthusiasts that a Nature Prescription (RX)—without technology, may be the prescription we all need.

David Strayer, professor of Cognition and Neural Science at the University of Utah presented his research on how a person’s ability to pay attention can be restored by interacting with nature, ideally without a mobile device. He uses converging methodologies in his lab to measure changes in both attention and performance, from psychophysiological (EEG and fMRI), subjective ratings, to primary (e.g., driving performance) and secondary task (e.g., reaction time) measures. Images of the brain were shown, reflecting how spectral EEG frequency changes after prolonged exposure in nature without technology. What does this all mean? When technology was used outside, there was greater inflammation across the brain, as compared to time out in nature without technology. Strayer, as well as other studies on neural plasticity suggest, brain-benefits of time in nature may include: improved cognition, enhanced memory, increased creativity, attention restoration, and changes in positive affect.


Dr. Michael Suk, MD JD MPH FACS provided the opening keynote for the conference and presented additional evidence around the health benefits of time outside, mobilizing a call to action that advances nature as a social determinant of health. Current social determinants of health commonly include: education, employment and working conditions, food, housing, and social support. Access to nature is now being advanced as an important extension to a community health model. As people complain of an increasing sense of social isolation, despite technology’s promise to connect, doctors are finding they can help people be active and connect with friends and family when they send them outside. Additionally, without telling their patients to “exercise,” the prescription to go outside seems to encourage and support a more active lifestyle.

Some members of the audience asked if physicians and health systems need more evidence before widely adopting the Nature RX. The resounding answer was loud and clear: “Sure, we’d welcome more research and data, but we don’t have time to wait given the chronic disease we are seeing. We’re out of time.” Physicians are diving in, getting their hands dirty and finding ways to get their patients outside. Dr. Nooshin Razani presented her groundbreaking park prescription program called Stay Healthy In Nature Everyday (SHINE) where she takes families into nature every month. She is a pediatrician, researcher, and advocate of access to nature as a human right. As an attending physician at UCSF Benioff Oakland’s Primary Care Clinic and a Clinical Scientist at Children’s Hospital Oakland Research Institute (CHORI), she conducted the first randomized trial of park prescriptions. She implemented Park Rx by providing transportation to parks, fun activities such as community walking, group games, meditation and yoga.

Other physicians across the country are leading similar efforts. Founder and Medical Director of Park Rx America, Dr. Robert Zarr, talked about his health initiative of prescribing nature to patients and families to prevent and treat chronic disease and promote wellness. Dr. Banner of Barton Health and USFS/Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit Collaboration discussed his system’s team of staff who are getting patients out in nature. It is clear other health systems like Aetna, Kaiser Permanente, Northwestern, University of Washington and Berkeley are advancing research and Nature RX prescription efforts of their own. At a time when chronic disease like obesity, heart disease, diabetes, hypertension and mental health disease are being widely diagnosed, it is both refreshing and exciting to see health systems looking at different models to engage their patients and communities in nature as a determinant of health.

Most doctors and health leaders will say this is just common sense. Time outside makes people happier and healthier. Nature, parks and public lands offer us a place to unwind, to recreate, to experience risks and challenges that help build population resiliency. Time outside is also a way, and a place, to connect with friends and families. Maybe we have a favorite river or lake we like to go to, a city park, a mountain we like to climb, a landscape we like to be in to feel at peace. It turns out that these places we intuitively connect with or feel a sense of wonder over, are often what make us happier and healthier.

As an Idaho native, and as Idaho Business for the Outdoor’s Executive Director, I proudly support this nonpartisan, cross-sector collaboration that reestablishes people’s relationship with nature as a path to better community health. It is with deep gratitude and pride in our great outdoor state—Idaho, that I stand firmly behind this national effort.

2018 SHIFT: Public Lands/Public Health

Day 1 - Blue Mind

I’m in beautiful Jackson Hole, Wyoming at the base of the Teton mountains. Last night, I attended an uplifting and moving talk at the SHIFT conference by author and researcher, Wallace J. Nichols. He’s a sea turtle lover and expert, with a captivating ability to connect everyone in a room around water. To a packed house, he talked about his book “Blue Mind: The Surprising Science That Shows How Being Near, In, On, or Under Water Can Make You Happier, Heathier, More Connected, and Better at What You Do.”

He showed research and data on how water diminishes anxiety, amplifies creativity, expands compassion, and improves well-being. He also made the qualitative, or very human case, for water’s restorative benefits. He showed seemingly random photos, paintings, lyrics, and poems connecting people to and around water, making the case water heals us, makes us smile, makes us laugh, heals us, and makes us happier and healthier people.

SHIFT 2018

SHIFT 2018

He gave each of us a blue marble to hold up in the air to remind us earth is a small blue planet of water. His resounding message was a call to action - find your water! We were encouraged to think about our marble and a particular body of water we relate to. It could be your favorite fly fishing stream, the lake you and your kids swim and paddle board, a river you paddle, the neighborhood pool, a mountain of snow (it is water after all), a beach, the water you drink. It’s different for everyone, but Nichols is so confident in water’s connective power that he uses is as a conversation starter on airplanes, “What’s your water?” he asks.

We all need water and our waters need us, is Nichol’s poignant and timely message to everyone. It struck a chord with me. We have waters in Idaho that need us; what’s our relationship to these waters? What’s our collective responsibility and my own responsibility to “my water”?

Next week, I will help facilitate a citizen science effort. Idaho Business for the Outdoors has teamed up with high school environmental science classes in Boise to conduct water quality testing along the Boise River from Arrowrock to Parma. As I board the bus to visit various testing sites with high school students, I will be thinking about the health and nature benefits of clean waters as well as their economic value to our state. I will be thinking about the collaborative business, education and community advocacy efforts needed to make 100% of Idaho waters fishable and swimmable. I will be thinking about what water quality data means to different people and stakeholders managing water quality, infrastructure, flows and water policy. I will also be thinking about how these young people connect to water and what it means to them.

We believe engaging young people in water science and monitoring is key to environmental science education, water conservation, and valuing water as an asset. What Nichols reminds me is that perhaps what is equally important and valuable, is helping everyone find their water and to make sure there is quality access for all. Water on a basic human level is fun, restorative, enriching, and life sustaining. We all deserve our own water story! Next week something about a particular student will engage me. We will connect on some level and I will do what Nichols suggested. I will share my blue marble, put it in someone else’s hand and help them find their water story.

What’s Your Water? #shiftjh2018 #bluemind #bluemarble

Heather Parkinson Dermott
Four Letters You Should Know:  LWCF

Business leaders and owners in Idaho are proud supporters of the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), but it is now in danger of expiring.  The LWCF is one of our nation’s most important conservation legacies. Enacted in 1965, the LWCF helps preserve our public lands, working forests and ranches, and helps ensure access to public lands and outdoor recreation—all without the use of taxpayer dollars. 

Congress has not yet acted to fund or reauthorize this vital program before its September 30, 2018 expiration date.  Without the certainty of LWCF renewal, we put future conservation opportunities and our public lands in jeopardy.

Over the past 50-plus years, Idaho has received millions of dollars in LWCF funds, at no cost to the taxpayer.  LWCF is funded and authorized to receive up to $900 million annually through royalties paid by oil and gas companies drilling offshore.  The fund has enabled the preservation of millions of acres in all 50 states and supported the conservation of national parks, local trails, national recreation areas, wildlife refuges, rangeland access and more.

The Trump administration's 2019 budget, again calls for major cuts in the LWCF and some have threatened to let it expire.  The LWCF has two components: the federal land acquisition program and the state assistance program. The federal fund helps acquire “inholdings," or pieces of private land within the borders of national parks, forests, wildlife refuges and other protected sites. The purchase of inholdings help make pieces of public land “whole,” more continuous, and therefore simpler to manage and access from a wildlife, rangeland grazing and outdoor recreation standpoint.

The LWCF state assist program allows matching grants for open spaces, parks and outdoor recreation areas and facilities. From Sandpoint to Soda Springs, LWCF state assistance program has helped fund the purchase of parks and outdoor recreation areas. The Sawtooth National Recreation Area, City of Rocks, parts of the Salmon River, Bruneau Sand Dunes, Ponderosa State Park and many others have been conserved using important LWCF dollars. 

The economic impact and benefits of LWCF nationwide reported by the National Recreation and Parks Association are notable:
  • In Fiscal Year (FY) 2017, the total LWCF was $450 million 
  • The State Assistance Program provided over $110 million in funding to states and localities FY 2017; Idaho received over $1 million for recreation use projects FY 2017
  • Wise Use of Federal Funds at NO Expense to the U.S. Taxpayer
  • States do not have to compete against other states for funding. Each year, a set percentage of LWCF State Assistance funding is equally distributed to the states and territories. Remaining funds are then allocated based on population.  
Congressman Mike Simpson, Senator Jim Risch, and Senator Mike Crapo have all been supporters of the LWCF in the past. However, the approximately $900 million deposited annually into the federal treasury for LWCF every year, continues to be diverted to other pursuits, depleting vital conservation resources. Join Idaho Business for the Outdoors in thanking our Congressional delegates for their support, and in asking for their leadership and support to help Congress:  
  • Fully fund and permanently reauthorize the Land and Water Conservation Fund, which is set to expire on September 30, 2018
  • Demand robust funding for the total LWCF greater than FY18 level of $450 million
  • Continued support for the State Assistance Program at 40% of overall LWCF allocations, appropriating no less than $110 million (FY17 level)
  • Continue their hard work to keep Idaho an outdoor state