Upper Snake River Trappers of Idaho, Inc.
The Upper Snake River Trappers of Idaho was organized by a small group of about 25 southeastern Idaho trappers in the Fall of 2001 to address the needs of the trappers of southeastern Idaho and to promote trapping throughout Idaho and the United States. The organization was initiated with a limited amount of resources provided from $100 loans from 18 local trappers:
- Gerald Arnell (Montpelier)
- George Bradford (Idaho Falls)
- Robert Gokey (Roberts)
- Bill Kelly (Idaho Falls)
- Wayne Ruffridge (Chubbuck)
- Mark Buttars (Idaho Falls)
- Boyd Hammond (rural Blackfoot)
- Delane Kritsky (Chubbuck)
- Bart Smith (Rexburg)
- John Contor (Blackfoot)
- Kim Holbrook (Idaho Falls)
- Dean Michaelson (Paris)
- John Smith (Rexburg)
- Tlya Barker (Idaho Falls)
- Steve Fitzwater (Dubois)
- Bud Keller (Preston)
- Milt Olson (Idaho Falls)
- Kent Young (Idaho Falls)
Since that meager beginning, the USRT has grown to a highly viable trapping organization of about 200 members supporting trapping in Idaho and throughout the United States.
The bylaws of USRT outlined an organizational structure comprising a Board of Directors with 5 members: an Elections Director; a Public Relations Director; a Fur Sale Director; a Fish and Game/Legislative Director; and an National Trappers Association (NTA) Director; a Chairman of the Board was to be elected by the members of the Board of Directors to serve one-year terms. The first members elected to serve on the Board of Directors were Mark Buttars (Elections Director), Brett Johnson (Public Relations Director), Bill Kelly (Legislative Director), Boyd Hammond (Fur Sales Director) and Kenn Johnson (NTA Director), with Mark Buttars being subsequently elected to serve as Chairman of the Board.
Within a 3 months of the establishment of the USRT, the organization had held its first Fur Sale to serve the trappers of eastern Idaho and as an affiliate of the National Trappers Association, had committed to host the first and second National Trappers Association Western Convention in Blackfoot, Idaho. The latter commitments involved a major challenge for the fledgling association because it was estimated that more than 50 volunteers would be needed to manage and operate the western conventions each year. The 2002 and 2003 NTA Western Conventions were held in June, 2002 and 2003, and were a major successes by attracting more than 750 trappers each year from throughout the western states and some states east of the Mississippi River. Within 8 months of organization, the USRT had made its mark on the national trapping scene and had obtained a level of financial security that sufficient funds were available to continue regular operations as well as reimburse all 18 members for funds they provided for the startup loans for the organization.
Since those early beginnings, the USRT has continued to offer service to the trappers of Idaho by providing an annual fur sale in Blackfoot during January of each year, supporting the National Trappers Association both financially and by providing personnel (one of our members has served as President of the NTA and another as the Western Director), offering recommendations and public testimony concerning trapping and other wildlife issues to the Idaho Department of Fish and Game, supporting the young people of the State of Idaho by offering the $500 annual Trina Johnson Memorial Scholarship for a family member of a trapper to attend a college or university, supporting youth baseball in southeastern Idaho and participation in other youth activities in the area. In 2006, the USRT hosted the Fifth Annual NTA Western Convention again held in Blackfoot.
The USRT continues to hold important its objectives of 1) promoting sound conservation and management of the fur resources in the State of Idaho and throughout the United States; 2) to stand and fight against those forces attempting to destroy trapping as our heritage, as a sport, as an important wildlife management tool, and as a legitimate means of livelihood within Idaho and the United States; 3) to educate the public about the history, status, importance of trapping and other consumptive uses of wildlife in this country; and 4) to provide maximal service to the trappers of Idaho.