Life on and off the waters of the Wood River Valley
Riding the Wood River Wave
A small group of locals is making Bellevue a better (& safer) place
The spirit of Margaret Mead is apparently alive and well in Bellevue, Idaho. The late anthropologist and acclaimed author is credited with saying: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it's the only thing that ever has.”
Just such a small group, led by photographer Craig Wolfrom, called the Wood River Wave (WRW) is holding a fundraiser this Friday night at Mahoney’s Bar and Grill. The goal of the fundraiser is to help the WRW make Bellevue a safer and—quite frankly—a better place.
The town of Bellevue—which almost became the state capitol during the mining days—sits on a bluff above the Big Wood River. Just beneath town, only a couple blocks from the bustle of Main Street/Highway 75, the river is bisected by a low-head dam and an irrigation canal, which are surrounded by the family and pet friendly paths of the Howard Preserve.
It’s long been a popular spot for local kids and dogs to swim, skip rocks or chase after trout. But the old dam has become dilapidated and downright dangerous. So it’s really no longer a matter of if someone is going to get seriously hurt there, it’s really just a matter of when.
The folks behind WRW want to replace the old dam with a safer one that will create a rolling play wave (a smaller version of the water park planned for Ketchum) and turn the hazard into an asset.
“I shouldn’t have to tell my kids not to go swimming in the river,” said Craig, a husband and father of two, who moved to Bellevue in 2006 and instantly realized something needed to be done about the dam.
“It looked nasty and very dangerous. And as my friend Chris Cook says, ‘We don’t want this to have to be a Memorial Park,’” Craig said about his inspiration to start WRW. “It can be re-done and everyone I’ve talked to about it has always said, ‘Yes.’ I figured I would just keep going with it until someone said ‘No,’ and no one has.”
Craig put an ad in the paper calling for people to help figure out how to fix the dam. Despite all the interest around town, only one person showed up, Danielle Flam.
After they met, and then had graphics designer and Bellevue resident Robin Leahy jump on board to help out, the small group Mead spoke of had been formed.
“It went from five miles-per-hour to 70 when Danielle showed up,” Craig said with a big, red goatee-covered smile.
“The community has really been helpful and supportive,” Danielle explained. “People are aware that there’s more benefit than just creating a play wave.”
In addition to making the river safer, a play wave would attract kayakers and other such water sport enthusiasts and would make it easier for trout to travel up and down the river. Of course, having more folks stop in Bellevue for a quick family paddle or some angling should also be financially beneficial to the town.
When you put it all together, the Wood River Wave is really a win-win, which helps explain why the benefit party has drawn so much support (see the list of sponsors and raffle prize donators below).
The goal of the party is to raise the $12,000 needed to have Scott Shipley of S20 (who also designed the Ketchum whitewater park) draw up an engineering plan and cost estimates that can be used to apply for grants.
If all goes well, a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens will indeed change at least one small, but beautiful part of the world. And if you’re around this Friday night you can help—and have one heck of a time while doing so.
Wood River Wave Fundraiser Lowdown:
Where & When: Friday night, August 16 from 5pm until closing at Mahoney’s Bar and Grill in Bellevue.
Music: Mark Oliver Trio and StoneSeed from Bosie.
Cost: Free; $25 to get a WRW mug and all the beer you can drink (seven kegs have been donated) or you can purchase individual beers for $3 each.
Raffle tickets: Raffle tickets are $5 each or six tickets for $20, and you don’t even have to be present to win!
Purchase tickets: http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/benefit-for-wood-river-wave or at Mahoney’s.
Raffle prizes include: Patagonia backpacks, NRS Inversion Dry Suit ($900 retail), Matt Leideckers' guidebooks, Mike McKenna’s new book “Angling Around Sun Valley” & a subscription to Sun Valley Magazine, Kayak Sessions Magazine subscriptions, BCRD Nordic Season Pass, Waterworks-Lamson Konik II Reel, Snapdragon Whitewater EXP kayak spray skirt with implosion bar & a pair of Hyper Hands paddle mitts, AIRE 24" Landing Pad (outdoor sleeping pad), Aire 5L Vision Dry Bags, Cascade Outfitters 2 Maravia Silverback sleeping pads , Yellowbelly Ice cream 4-pack pints, Ketchum Car Wash coupons, and mystery items from Ski Tek & Kokatat. Plus more coming in every day!