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Bob Dunnagan Recognized for Voluntary Service

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At the National Trout Unlimited Convention in Portland, Oregon late last year Bob Dunnagan received the National Distinguished Service Award. National Trout Unlimited was rewarding Bob for the endless years of work that he put in on the relicensing of Avista’s two dams on the lower Clark Fork River.

    What the rest of Trout Unlimited and our community may not know, though, is the amount of hours that Bob has put in on other projects. Bob has just finished three years as the Idaho State council chairman. The growth of the council during his leadership has been amazing. The council now has an executive director, is being contacted by various agencies for input and has become a much stronger voice for fish in Idaho. Bob has also been instrumental in getting national TU to select the South Fork of the Snake for a home rivers project. He has spent many hours with Potlatch Corporation trying to work out various conservation programs and projects. He was the contact person for the removal of the small dam on Colburn Creek with Crown Pacific. He has done surveys of roads and culverts, has cut firewood, and done anything else that would benefit Trout Unlimited and coldwater fish in Idaho.

    Bob truly has put in the time and has accomplished a tremendous amount. The award that national TU has presented him can only be a small thank you for everything he has done.

    From the Panhandle Chapter, Bob, we want to thank you again. By Loren Albright

    In his own words, Bob Dunnagan had this to say recently:

    “Not too long ago the Editor/Publisher/Janitor/Paperboy of The River Journal (a.k.a. Dennis), asked me to write an article “reflecting” on my efforts to do something positive for fish.  The idea of “reflecting” kind of scares me so let me describe why I have done what I have done in the name of fish.

    To start, it’s probably helpful to understand that my active work career was exclusively in the natural resource field.   I attempt to apply much of what I learned about forest resources to my current work as a tree farmer.  When I “retired” I had an urge to apply some of my knowledge through a conservation organization. A series of serendipitous meetings lead me to Trout Unlimited (TU) in Sandpoint.  After a short period of time I made a decision to see if I could apply what I had learned and believed toward the protection, enhancement, and preservation of coldwater fisheries.  That seemed to work well for me as I have been fishing for trout and other fish for the past 60+ years and I had a personal retirement goal of becoming a much better angler. 

    In reality, my involvement in a conservation issue probably had as much to do with my excess energy as anything else.  In addition I like to engage people and I like to chase complex and difficult objectives that I feel have merit.  All of this is driven by a real need to leave the land a little better then I found it for my grandkids.

    Once I became engaged, the work followed.  About the time I “retired” discussions related to the relicensing of the two lower Clark Fork dams began.  I was asked if I would be willing to work on this project for TU. I said yes, but had little idea of what that would entail.  Eight years later and several campaigns down the road, I am still active with projects and activities that will help coldwater fish.  

    That’s about it, in a nutshell: make yourself available, be willing to listen to and respect other points of view, stand by well grounded principles and work to make a difference for something you believe in.  Be prompt when attending meetings, both summer and winter, and have enough disposable income to cover your out of pocket expenses.  If you have these basic ingredients and a willingness to apply yourself over the longer haul, volunteer work is a rewarding way to remain actively engaged after “retirement.”  


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Dennis Nicholls Dennis Nicholls was the founder, publisher, janitor and paperboy of the River Journal from 1993 to 2001. He passed away in 2009.

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