Thursday, August 6, 2020
Saving the Land, Pikas and More for the Seventh Generation
Cathryn Wild and Bill Morris often find themselves up to their knees in muck in the interests of conservation.
Monday, March 12, 2018


The Iroquois have long believed that they must consider the impact on seven generations down the road in every decision they make.

Cathryn Wild and Bill Morris adopted that philosophy as their own when they started a conservation organization titled Seventh Generation Institute.

The organization, which opened an office in Sun Valley this past year, connects people to nature conservation by organizing volunteer opportunities locally and through travel to take care of special places and endangered species. And it strives to educate people about the latest innovation and research in conservation through monthly Outsider Corps slide presentations.

Cathryn Wild traps a beaver for a stream restoration project on a northern Nevada ranch.

Past programs have focused on efforts to monitor pika and climate change in the southern Rockies, the recovery of seabirds following the Exxon Valdez oil spill and protecting endangered sea turtles on the Caribbean island of Bonaire.

On Wednesday, March 14, the Outsider Corps will offer a program featuring Ketchum’s own Goat Man Nappy Neaman, who has spent countless hours observing, tracking and recording information on the mountain goats that live north of Ketchum in the Boulder and Smoky mountains.

Neaman, who has contributed his expertise to Idaho Fish and Game and the 2013 Discovery Channel series “North America,” will lead the free discussion at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday at the Sawtooth Botanical Garden south of Ketchum.

Those who don’t have a chance to grab dinner beforehand can avail themselves of the “Green Plate Special”—soup, quarter sandwich and cookie—from Perry’s for $11.

This beaver is a juvenile—elderly beavers can exceed a hundred pounds.

Wild and Morris lived in Ketchum from 1979 to 1997, with Morris working in construction and Wild working construction, property management and even a produce stand.

After Wild finished a master degree in conservation biology, they moved to Santa Fe for a few years.

“We were scuba diving on an island in Honduras when we met a local diver who had helped establish a protected marine area that we were diving in. We were so fascinated that he was an ordinary person who had gone out of his way to do something tremendous. We thought: Why can’t we inspire people to do that?” Wild recounted.

Since, the couple has been involved in several projects, including one showing a northern Nevada rancher how to use beaver to rebuild and restore streams. It paid off in dividends when record-breaking snowmelt breached a dam on the ranch in the spring of 2017, necessitating recues via helicopters.

Bill Morris and Cathryn Wild moved back to Sun Valley, in part because there was so little opportunity to ski and engage in other winter activities in Santa Fe.

When floodwaters receded, the land, fish, plants and wildlife looked as if nothing had happened, in part because of the way the restoration had slowed floodwaters that could have cut a gorge in the land and done others kinds of damage.

“It could have been millions of dollars in restoration but it wasn’t. What’s it worth to prevent damage that would take a century to repair? Priceless!” Wild said.

In a spur of the moment project, the couple enlisted fellow tourists from as far away as Argentina and The Netherlands to help clear  plastic and other garbage from the beaches of Bonaire.

“We were thinking about our impact as tourists and wondering what we could do to mitigate our impact,” Wild said.

Susan Giannettino took this picture of Nappy Neaman and his anonymous friend for Eye on Sun Valley when Neaman was auctioning off photographs of goats to benefit a conservation project.

The two are introducing a program they call “Nurture the Natives” in Sun Valley. The mission: To remove noxious spotted knapweed and restore native plants and pollinators.

“There are others working on it, but the problem is so overwhelming that there are not enough resources to do all that’s needed,” said Wild. “We want to map infestations, prioritize what needs to be worked on, bring in weevils, moths and other means of biological control to attack the knapweed and plant native seed.”

Seventh Generation Institute hopes to recruit locals for the effort and bring in volunteers from elsewhere who would like to couple a conservation project with a vacation in Sun Valley.

They plan to fund the project through donations and grants.

“We want to connect people and inspire them,” said Wild. “Our litmus test is: Is this having an impact? If we won’t take care of nature, it’s not going to be there for the next generation.”

For more information, visit or call 208-720-4655.


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