596. The Poetry of Places

The Cathedral of The Madeleine, SLC

Here’s the set-up, viewing Salt Lake City through the lens of religion and the buildings & the people who built those buildings and adhere to those religions. When you have such a iconic place as SLC mixed in with the history of one of the only world religion’s created on American Soil (Latter Day Saints) and the diversity of a cosmopolitan city: bam… you got the poetry of places. Let’s see where we go with this.

First Presbyterian Church, Salt Lake City

In the shadows of The Temple Square lies other buildings, jealous lovers, and yes size matters… not to God so much but to the people that inhabit those buildings to remind themselves of a God that doesn’t really care all that much…

…about the buildings, and their size.

Gargoyle’s of SLC

The Mormons were first to arrive on the Salt Lake scene, at least the first Euro-disco pioneers, 148 in all. Of those only 3 women and 2 kids. No wonder polygamy was a thing.

The Capstone Finished, 1892
The Temple along with what appears to be a giant roast beef-covered dish-server thingee
The Disneyland of Temples

The Mormons got it going on with the whole Temple gig in 1853, along with the Gold Rush, ceding the land from Mexico, persecution, crickets, locust, and what not… the building wasn’t finished until 1892.

Then the Catholics, not to be outdone, started planting stones to a Gothic God, frightening in its Gargoyles to stand watch over sin and guilt and to remind all the parishioners that hell hurts, fire burns, confess your sins, drink whisky. 1890 through 1909. Bam another building right down the street, let’s keep God inside these four walls shall we?

St. Mary’s, A beautiful place

And for a diversion, right across the street is a red sumo wrestler statue in front of the Mountain West Commercial Realty Group.

He faces the Cathedral of the Madeleine as to aggressively want to kick Catholic Ass… maybe they hold too much property or a real estate deal gone bad with the archdiocese… maybe the owner of the Real Estate Group hates that big funny hat the Pope wears!! Who knows?

Rear View, Sumo fighting mad at the Catholics.
Close-up / Sumo Ass, 2021

Back to religion & the Presbyterians.

Not to be outdone still… the Presbyterians… everything predestined and pre-determined to happen just how it happens and happened.

In July of 1871, Rev. Sheldon Jackson visited Salt Lake City and recommended to the Board of Home Missions of the Presbyterian Church that a church be organized. On October 1, 1871, Rev. Josiah Welch came to Salt Lake City, and on the next Sunday preached in Faust’s Hall, over Mulloy and Paul’s Livery Stable, to twelve people. Brigham Young had closed to the “Gentiles” (non-Mormons) every hall and public place in the city so this unsavory stable was the only place available. On November 12, 1871, the First Presbyterian Church was organized with twelve members.

– From the Website of the 1st Pres’s
History of 1st Presbyterian, Salt Lake

And in the formative years as a land was forged and men, women, and children planted their Gods squarely inside beautiful buildings, all along God looked on and laughed from the cathedrals of stone and water and wood…

Sit in one of those buildings vs the mountains and feel God sucked out of your soul. The cathedral of stone, ragged and jagged, like life, the baptism of snow runoff streams and freezing lakes cleansing and the shards of splinters of pine and fir… and snow and snow and snow…

…finally God.

Good.

597. Active Outdoor Cities & That SLC Sign

Salt Lake City Outdoorsy & Active

When I think of cities that are outdoors and active, cities I’ve spent any amount of time in, I think of Boise, Idaho; Austin, Texas; and Salt Lake City, Utah. There’s something about those places that invite people to get outdoors. Add in a little bit of elevation, some decent weather, parks and public spaces…. and bam you get droves of people on any given morning and evening outside, hiking, walking, biking, running, climbing, or running around in their underwear.

Salt Lake City

…but they can and they do. Just throw a Cupid’s Underwear Run on for a good cause and the whole, “modesty is sexy,” and all that repression about people’s bodies just gets stripped away as SLC set some kind of Guinness Book of World’s Records for the most people running around in public in their underwear at one time…

SLC Cupid Run Record
SLC Active & Outdoors

Boise, Idaho

Boise, Where Even The Goth Kids Wear Underwear
The Active Lifestyle, Boise

Austin, Texas

Running Austin in Your Undies
Keeping Austin Weird

And oh yeah that sign I promised ya from SLC..

Love This

Now don’t think I’d post outdoor active people running around in their underwear just to boost readership and to encourage an outdoor active lifestyle!!! Naw, doesn’t sound like something we’d do here on the Good Things. And just to not knock other active cities, here’s a list or two from the internets of other places that deserve to be on the list.

And remember if you think you can’t be outdoors and active…

You can!

Good thingz!!

598. Salt Lake City Street Art & RocTaco

Salt Lake City Street Art

Salt Lake City is a place that always pleasantly surprises me. Being LDS central with the Temple Square being the focal point, you’d expect it to have a certain conservative reserved staid air about it. Repressed a bit. That’s not the case. It’s funky, eccentric, arty, youthful, and vibrant. And that can be witnessed best on the street, walking through alleys and among Main Street and the downtown cultural center called the Blocks.

Salt Lake The Blocks

And then there’s RocTaco, a funky fusion alley restaurant with tasty creations, hot sauce, funky seating with bottle cap art, NWA related music playing, and best of all… stuffed animals in pretend formaldehyde jars. You read that right… stuffed animals.

RocTaco on Yelp

Here’s some of the pics…

RocTaco Review

And back to the street Art of SLC…

Make a visit to SLC & be surprised like Z&Me!!

Good thingz.

600. Xander Bogaerts Cool

All Things Xander

When I think of the coolest player to play the game of baseball, Adrian Beltre, yours and my favorite Texas Rangers always comes to mind. But who is the coolest player in the MLB today. Evidently there’s a lot of competition. One thing I love about the “internetz,” is that there is a list out there for everything. To include this list of the coolest player on every team.

In searching for a current day player to deem cool, here’s why I went with Xander:

1. He plays for the Red Sox which is cool.

2. The Red Sox are the most hated franchise by the New York Yankees, which is also cool.

3. He has a joy of the game, maybe not Beltre level joy, but come on, no one has that.

Sox @ Sundown

4. His first name is Xander. That’s cool.

5. His last name is Bogaerts which reminds me of bogarting something or someone, which is a term for, “hey don’t bogart that joint,” which isn’t cool in and of itself but still…

The Red Sox Get Crabs

6. He is from Aruba which is cool in and of itself but then there’s that Beach Boys song about “Aruba Jamaica, oh I want to take ya…” which isn’t a cool song and all but still…

7. His nicknames are X-man which sounds cool but also Bogey or Bogie which reminds me of fighter planes which is cool.

8. In his MLB debut with the Boston Red Sox at age 20 he became the youngest player to hit a triple in a World Series Game and helped his team win only the 8th WS ring in that storied franchise’s storied history.

9. He can even make the World Baseball Cup look cool as Bogaerts played for the Dutch national team in the 2011 Baseball World Cup (which the team won), the 2013 World Baseball Classic, and the 2017 World Baseball Classic.

The Joy of The Game

10. His is only the 6th Aruban to play in the MLB & even has a school named after him in the Dutch Caribbean.

Bowling with the Sox

11. He speaks four languages: English, Spanish, Dutch, and Papiamento, the latter two being Aruba’s official languages.

12. He is just cool.

Grand Slam Cool

Xander Bogaerts Cool. Cool… and good.

601. Billy Joel & It’s Still Rock & Roll To Me

Billy Joel, Rock & Rolling

For some reason the music of Billy Joel has held a place in my heart and soul. Something about his Greatest Hits Vol 1 and the songs contained therein. I followed him until 1989’s “Storm Front.”

Downeaster Alexa From Storm Front

So I used to do these musical tournaments on Facebook. They were fun & about music. Much like the March Madness NCAA tourneys, there were brackets, categories, pitting artists against artists, and people had to vote on one in a match-up to move on. I was surprised that people seemed to like them. Anywhooo… I think the first or second one I did matched up Billy Joel against Elton John because those two artist are forever linked together, both being piano men, both toeing the line between rock, pop, and balladeer. I think only one other individual’s vote & I were the only one’s to vote for Joel. Everyone else loved them some Elton on account of “Candles In The Wind,” and Princess Diana version, the funeral… and also that biopic of Elton, “Rocketman.” He’s all the rage among the popular kidz and all…

Elton John’s The Rocketman

I mean Elton is hard not to love right? He had the songwriting partnership with Bernie…Taupin or Sanders, I’m not sure which one really.

And Billy just had himself to write and perform all those songs. Granted some of his songs are pretty annoying… “We Didn’t Start The Fire,” and “That’s Not Her Style,” come to mind. But his good songs, so New York, so authentic to me. And he had troubles, of the mental health variety. Here’s one of Joel coming undone in one of his performances…

Billy Joel Loses it Live

Sure angry man rage doesn’t win you fans but you gotta admit… that’s still rock and roll, mixed in with a little bit of punk…to me. Not bad for a piano man. And granted he was married to Christie Brinkley and all and then there was a divorce because Billy, let’s face it, was probably a handful, a character, difficult to live with.

Joel has been very public about his battles with depression and a failed suicide attempt in his 20’s when he tried to drink furniture polish instead of bleach because it would taste better. He was in a very dark place after his first failed album. He wrote the song, “You’re Only Human,” about teenage depression and dealing with suicidal thought…

Billy Joel’s, “You’re Only Human”

You’re having a hard time and lately you don’t feel so good.
You’re getting a bad reputation in your neighborhood.
It’s alright.

Sometimes that’s what it takes,
You’re only human.
You’re allowed to make your share of mistakes.
You better believe there will be times in your life,
When you’ll be feeling like a stumbling fool.
So take it from me you’ll learn more from your accidents,
Than anything that you could ever learn at school.

It’s not always easy to be living in this world of pain.
You’re gonna be crashing into stone walls again and again.

You’ve been keeping to yourself these days,
‘Cause you’re thinking everything’s gone wrong.
Sometimes you just want to lay down and die.
That emotion can be so strong.
But hold on.

You probably don’t want to hear advice from someone else,
But I wouldn’t be telling you if I hadn’t been there myself.

Sure that song hasn’t held up too well musically. It’s not his best song but the message of hope is still there. Hold on. Life holds magical things even though the present seems too heavy at times. But if you hold out… things will change as they inevitably do. That’s hope.

Memories of Joel’s songs and listening to them around people in your childhood. Memories of hope tied up in a flawed individual, a performer, a piano man, the hope to trust in tomorrow, because tomorrow can always bring good things, that today doesn’t seem to offer. That’s what this about about. It’s only rock and roll… but I like it.

Peace, Hope. And Good things.

602. Czech It & Something Called Slovakia

The Czech Republic
Elevation Map Czech Republic

There’s a country. It’s called the Czech Republic. It’s cool. Culture. Beautiful people. Art. History. Rivers. Beautiful people, Nature. Rivers. WWII tragedies, communist Revolution, authors and artists… and beautiful people.

Paulina Porizkova
Marek Ztracený Czech Singer

Prague is a beautiful place, seriously beautiful. The St Charles or maybe just the Charles Bridge is elegant, sophisticated, all gothic towers and statues, built in the 1300’s under King Charles… it’s a centerpiece landmark and with the right Eastern European weather creates a mood setting that is infinitely photographic.

Charles Bridge

And art!! The Czech Republic has art right out the bootie hole. Literally.

David Černý, Czech Artist

Perhaps the Czech Republic’s best-known contemporary artist, David Černý has received international recognition for his often controversial sculptures and socio-political commentary. The artist first gained notoriety in 1991 when he painted a tank in Prague’s Kinský Square commemorating the 1945 Soviet emancipation of Czechoslovakia, pink. Many more of Černý’s sculptures can be found around his native city, like Tower Babies – a series of baby-like figures climbing the Žižkov TV Tower, and the humorous Piss – two bronze statues urinating in front of the Franz Kafka Museum. Černý’s Brownnosers – two large human sculptures bending over that invite viewers to climb a ladder to view a video of politicians spoon-feeding each other – is on permanent view at FUTURA Center for Contemporary Art.

Oh yeah, there’s this place called Slovakia. The two used to be combined. Czechoslovakia. What happened? It’s two different countries.

Slovakia, it’s a country

How did this happen? A breakup. We just don’t have time to go into it.

The Unbearable Lightness of Being, Milan K.

Let’s not forget this guy. I was obsessed with his books at one time in life. A chronicler of the Revolution in interestingly tragic and sexy and funny all at the same time fiction, Milan Kundera.

M.K.

Czech Republic, all things Czech, and Czech it. Oh yeah… Slovakia. Still not sure what that’s all about.

Good. Dobrý!!!

603. The National Parks & the Sawtooth N.R.A.

A Brief History of National Parks

The National Parks, the Disneyland of Wilderness or a system designed that allows the public to enjoy nature’s greatest wonders while still ensuring their conservation? The truth, like most things I think, probably lies somewhere in the middle.

Yellowstone, The United States’ First National Park
The Grand Tetons, The United States’s ’ Best National Park??

Many times, in these Good Things, I bury the lead at the bottom. Can an old Tiger grow new stripes?? Hell no! That’s just ridiculous. Tigers, stripes?!!?? Geez!

But can you teach an old dog new tricks?!!?? Hell yes you can! I know this for a fact. Here’s a funny old dog video…

Old Cats & Dogs can be Funny Too!, Tiger Productions

Well you didn’t think I was just going to hand it over on a silver platter now did ya?? The lead:

National Parks are a good thing but can be too much of a good thing. The Sawtooth Mountain Range’s history of becoming a National Recreation Area vs. a National Park more closely preserved a place on this earth I love above all others better than becoming Idaho’s version of a nature amusement park. Wilderness was never intended to be humanity’s Disney Land.

First Yellowstone…

Montana Reporters Doing The Right Thing Around Bison

So Yellowstone was the first National Park created in 1872 by none other than that cray cray Union General turned President, Mr. Ulysses S. Grant. I have Yellowstone and Yosemite forever mixed up in my mind though I’ve been to both places. Of the two, I’m more drawn to Yosemite. I like dramatic rock, big changes in elevation and granted both parks are tied to some very personal emotions for me. Yosemite visiting when we were pregnant with our first child C. Yellowstone when Z was born & it was our first trip out as a family of 4. And Yellowstone again recently with C & Me as he gets ready for a new life in Nashville.

I wouldn’t trade the experiences I’ve had at Yellowstone for the world. The recent spiritual moments of getting caught out in the rain at Mammoth Hot Springs chasing C up the boardwalk stairs enjoying the rain washing over us, feeling the sheer and terrifying power of water as it continues to carve stone slowly over the lower falls of YNP’s Grand Canyon.

Freaky Big Hand Sighting at YNP’s Lower Falls

But truth be told, I have a hard time truly enjoying Yellowstone as a whole. Something about the folly of car jams all day long in the middle of “wilderness,” gets to me a bit. It kinda takes what I love most and taints it a bit. Okay a helluva of a bit. Cars moving through a herd of Bison and me worrying about a car getting charged with their windows rolled down facing off a Bison in the middle of the road?? That surely deserves satire doesn’t it? And a million and one cars parked to get out like a TMZ photo shoot when there is an elk 500 feet away. And how much steamy water can one stand in a single day!!??? I get it nature already!! You can make people come in droves to tour what is basically a volcanic caldera waiting to erupt and you can have the last laugh when it happens!! I get it already cruel ass nature!! Geez!!!

But still… these Yellowstone Videos in Slo-Mo can provide a form of visual meditation that on some level is good for the soul. Try it, you’ll like it…

Falls in Slo-Mo
Mammoth H.S.’s Slo-Mo

And now for the Tetons. Let’s just let mountains and music speak for themselves shall we?? The better (for me) of the two National Parks I was just in yesterday and shared a once in a lifetime bonding experience w/ my son C & of course some music to match!!

Taggert Lake with the Grand’s in the Background and…
Peter Gabriel’s “A Different Drum,” for The Passion of Christ Soundtrack

And now let’s just let the Sawtooths speak for themselves and post up a bit of the history and call it Good for the day shall we??

The U.S. Forest Service’s lack of money and focused priorities has prompted some to question the 1972 decision to protect four mountain ranges, more than 1,000 lakes, 40 peaks higher than 10,000 feet and the headwaters of four major Idaho rivers as a recreation area instead of a national park. Parks generally get higher profiles, bigger budgets, and better visitor services and interpretive programs.

But Nourse, who worked as deputy ranger in the SNRA more than a decade ago, thinks Idaho’s congressional delegation made the right choice. Led by Democratic Sen. Frank Church, Idaho leaders created a hybrid recreation area that has withstood the test of time.

“It’s as much about what you don’t see as what you see,” Nourse said.

You don’t see the valleys filled with subdivisions of second homes stretching out from towns filled with huge resort hotels, Walmarts and other chains – like in Jackson, Wyo., near Grand Teton National Park. Stanley has seen only minor development in the past four decades, retaining its small, mountain-town character.

What you do see is the result of the vision of a few state leaders, activists and others who wanted the landscape preserved.

Church, Republican Sen. Len Jordan and Republican Reps. Jim McClure and Orval Hansen championed the law establishing the SNRA to protect fish and wildlife, halt significant new development and retain the area’s pastoral character. Their efforts came after a fight by conservationists to stop an open-pit molybdenum mine at Castle Peak in the White Clouds.

Cecil Andrus made the mine fight the centerpiece of his successful 1970 gubernatorial campaign, broadening support for the area and laying the groundwork for the delegation’s work.

But a combination of Idaho Falls nuclear workers and others who formed the Sawtooth Preservation Council didn’t think the Idaho delegation was ambitious enough.

A National Park Service plan presented at the time would have managed the valleys as national recreation areas and the mountains as a national park, said John Freemuth, a Boise State University political science professor and a former park ranger. The national recreation area designation allowed more flexibility. Okay

Visitors to a Sawtooth National Park would have seen a different place. As a national park, it inevitably would have attracted more visitors. Today about 1. 2 million people visit the SNRA annually.

Grand Teton National Park, which Freemuth said might be a comparable model, gets 3.8 million visitors who pay $25 per vehicle per week.

Most of all, there would have been more money for better visitor services and staffing. Grand Teton’s 2012 budget is $12.1 million, while the SNRA budget is just $2.8 million.

The Sawtooth National Forest has long had a small budget because it never had the big-money timber that drove national forest budgets for decades and laid the base for today’s forests. The SNRA has suffered with it.

“The Forest Service never figured out what to do with national recreation areas,” Freemuth said.

“We thought we were going to have to close the visitor center,” Nourse said.

What happened next is what sets the Sawtooth National Recreation Area apart.

Gadwa’s group teamed with volunteers from the Sawtooth Society and private businesses to take over the visitor center.

The Forest Service at first balked, said Gadwa, a retired conservation officer in Stanley.

But with Nourse’s backing, the local groups remodeled the center and expanded interpretive programs both at the center and in the forest. They were able to hire a retired SNRA employee as executive director.

This summer, programs are scheduled daily, and the groups hope to reach out to more children, Gadwa said.

Volunteerism is at the heart of the Sawtooth Society, started by Andrus; Hansen; Church’s widow, Bethine; and the late McClure. The group was critical in efforts in the 1990s to get Sen. Mike Crapo to push for additional federal funds to buy easements from landowners to prevent development northwest of Stanley.

Since it formed in 1997, Sawtooth Society members have raised more than $600,000 for 150 projects.

It is working with the Forest Service to buy – and close – a state of Idaho gravel pit still used in the Sawtooth Valley, said Gary O’Malley, the executive director.

As summer approaches, tens of thousands of Idahoans will drive up to camp, hike, boat, fish, etc, hunt and just soak up the scenery of a unique place.

For 40 years, Idahoans have stepped up as volunteers, voters or supporters to keep the Sawtooths special.

“People have a lot of ownership in that,” Nourse said.

Good thingz!!

603. The National Parks & the Sawtooth N.R.A.

A Brief History of National Parks

The National Parks, the Disneyland of Wilderness or a system designed that allows the public to enjoy nature’s greatest wonders while still ensuring their conservation? The truth, like most things I think, probably lies somewhere in the middle.

Yellowstone, The United States’ First National Park
The Grand Tetons, The United States’s ’ Best National Park??

Many times, in these Good Things, I bury the lead at the bottom. Can an old Tiger grow new stripes?? Hell no! That’s just ridiculous. Tigers, stripes?!!?? Geez!

But can you teach an old dog new tricks?!!?? Hell yes you can! I know this for a fact. Here’s a funny old dog video…

Old Cats & Dogs can be Funny Too!, Tiger Productions

Well you didn’t think I was just going to hand it over on a silver platter now did ya?? The lead:

National Parks are a good thing but can be too much of a good thing. The Sawtooth Mountain Range’s history of becoming a National Recreation Area vs. a National Park more closely preserved a place on this earth I love above all others. This designation serves the land better, I think, than becoming Idaho’s version of a nature amusement park. Wilderness was never intended to be humanity’s Disney Land.

First Yellowstone…

Montana Reporters Doing The Right Thing Around Bison

So Yellowstone was the first National Park created in 1872 by none other than that cray-cray Union General turned President, Mr. Ulysses S. Grant. I have Yellowstone and Yosemite forever mixed up in my mind…though I’ve been to both places. Of the two, I’m more drawn to Yosemite. I like dramatic rock, big changes in elevation and granted both parks are tied to some very personal emotions for me. Yosemite visiting when we were pregnant with our first child C. Yellowstone when Z was born & it was our first trip out as a family of 4. And Yellowstone again recently with C & Me as he gets ready for a new life in Nashville.

I wouldn’t trade the experiences I’ve had at Yellowstone for the world. The recent spiritual moments of getting caught out in the rain at Mammoth Hot Springs chasing C up the boardwalk stairs enjoying the rain washing over us, feeling the sheer and terrifying power of water as it continues to carve stone slowly over the lower falls of YNP’s Grand Canyon.

Freaky Big Hand Sighting at YNP’s Lower Falls

But truth be told, I have a hard time truly enjoying Yellowstone as a whole. Something about the folly of car jams all day long in the middle of “wilderness,” gets to me a bit. It kinda takes what I love most and taints it a bit. Okay a helluva of a bit. Cars moving through a herd of Bison and me worrying about a car getting charged with their windows rolled down facing off a Bison in the middle of the road?? That surely deserves satire doesn’t it? And a million and one cars parked to get out like a TMZ photo shoot when there is an elk 500 feet away. And how much steamy water can one stand in a single day!!??? I get it nature already!! You can make people come in droves to tour what is basically a volcanic caldera waiting to erupt and you can have the last laugh when it happens!! I get it already cruel ass nature!! Geez!!!

But still… these Yellowstone Videos in Slo-Mo can provide a form of visual meditation that on some level is good for the soul. Try it, you’ll like it…

Falls in Slo-Mo
Mammoth H.S.’s Slo-Mo

And now for the Tetons. Let’s just let mountains and music speak for themselves shall we?? The better (for me) of the two National Parks I was just in yesterday and shared a once in a lifetime bonding experience w/ my son C & of course some music to match!!

Taggert Lake with the Grand’s in the Background and…
Peter Gabriel’s “A Different Drum,” for The Passion of Christ Soundtrack

And now let’s just let the Sawtooths speak for themselves and post up a bit of the history and call it a “Good Thing.” for the day shall we??

The U.S. Forest Service’s lack of money and focused priorities has prompted some to question the 1972 decision to protect four mountain ranges, more than 1,000 lakes, 40 peaks higher than 10,000 feet and the headwaters of four major Idaho rivers as a recreation area instead of a national park. Parks generally get higher profiles, bigger budgets, and better visitor services and interpretive programs.

But Nourse, who worked as deputy ranger in the SNRA more than a decade ago, thinks Idaho’s congressional delegation made the right choice. Led by Democratic Sen. Frank Church, Idaho leaders created a hybrid recreation area that has withstood the test of time.

“It’s as much about what you don’t see as what you see,” Nourse said.

You don’t see the valleys filled with subdivisions of second homes stretching out from towns filled with huge resort hotels, Walmarts and other chains – like in Jackson, Wyo., near Grand Teton National Park. Stanley has seen only minor development in the past four decades, retaining its small, mountain-town character.

What you do see is the result of the vision of a few state leaders, activists and others who wanted the landscape preserved.

Church, Republican Sen. Len Jordan and Republican Reps. Jim McClure and Orval Hansen championed the law establishing the SNRA to protect fish and wildlife, halt significant new development and retain the area’s pastoral character. Their efforts came after a fight by conservationists to stop an open-pit molybdenum mine at Castle Peak in the White Clouds.

Cecil Andrus made the mine fight the centerpiece of his successful 1970 gubernatorial campaign, broadening support for the area and laying the groundwork for the delegation’s work.

But a combination of Idaho Falls nuclear workers and others who formed the Sawtooth Preservation Council didn’t think the Idaho delegation was ambitious enough.

A National Park Service plan presented at the time would have managed the valleys as national recreation areas and the mountains as a national park, said John Freemuth, a Boise State University political science professor and a former park ranger. The national recreation area designation allowed more flexibility. Okay

Visitors to a Sawtooth National Park would have seen a different place. As a national park, it inevitably would have attracted more visitors. Today about 1. 2 million people visit the SNRA annually.

Grand Teton National Park, which Freemuth said might be a comparable model, gets 3.8 million visitors who pay $25 per vehicle per week.

Most of all, there would have been more money for better visitor services and staffing. Grand Teton’s 2012 budget is $12.1 million, while the SNRA budget is just $2.8 million.

The Sawtooth National Forest has long had a small budget because it never had the big-money timber that drove national forest budgets for decades and laid the base for today’s forests. The SNRA has suffered with it.

“The Forest Service never figured out what to do with national recreation areas,” Freemuth said.

“We thought we were going to have to close the visitor center,” Nourse said.

What happened next is what sets the Sawtooth National Recreation Area apart.

Gadwa’s group teamed with volunteers from the Sawtooth Society and private businesses to take over the visitor center.

The Forest Service at first balked, said Gadwa, a retired conservation officer in Stanley.

But with Nourse’s backing, the local groups remodeled the center and expanded interpretive programs both at the center and in the forest. They were able to hire a retired SNRA employee as executive director.

This summer, programs are scheduled daily, and the groups hope to reach out to more children, Gadwa said.

Volunteerism is at the heart of the Sawtooth Society, started by Andrus; Hansen; Church’s widow, Bethine; and the late McClure. The group was critical in efforts in the 1990s to get Sen. Mike Crapo to push for additional federal funds to buy easements from landowners to prevent development northwest of Stanley.

Since it formed in 1997, Sawtooth Society members have raised more than $600,000 for 150 projects.

It is working with the Forest Service to buy – and close – a state of Idaho gravel pit still used in the Sawtooth Valley, said Gary O’Malley, the executive director.

As summer approaches, tens of thousands of Idahoans will drive up to camp, hike, boat, fish, etc, hunt and just soak up the scenery of a unique place.

For 40 years, Idahoans have stepped up as volunteers, voters or supporters to keep the Sawtooths special.

“People have a lot of ownership in that,” Nourse said.

Good thingz!!