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As one longtime Idaho conservationist leaves this group, another will take the helm

Cecil Andrus, Rick Johnson talk about preserving the Boulder-White Clouds

Former Idaho Gov. Cecil Andrus and the Idaho Conservation League's Rick Johnson speak in January 2015 about how to protect the Boulder-White Clouds in Central Idaho. Congress later made the region a wilderness area.
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Former Idaho Gov. Cecil Andrus and the Idaho Conservation League's Rick Johnson speak in January 2015 about how to protect the Boulder-White Clouds in Central Idaho. Congress later made the region a wilderness area.

A prominent Idaho environmental group will see a change in leadership this summer, the latest in a string of retirements across the outdoors community.

Rick Johnson plans to retire as leader of the Idaho Conservation League after 23 years with the organization, according to an ICL news release. He’ll retire in June, and longtime ICL program director Justin Hayes will assume the executive director position.

The nonprofit’s board of directors selected Hayes in a unanimous vote, the release said.

Hayes joined ICL in 2001. As program director, he has coordinated the organization’s litigation strategy and conservation programs, focusing on issues around mining and air and water quality.

In the release, Hayes said he plans to take on everything from endangered species recovery to climate change.

“Our state has big challenges ahead — saving our salmon and steelhead from extinction, addressing the causes and impacts of climate change, protecting our public lands and cleaning up polluted rivers,” Hayes said. “ICL is Idaho’s leading voice for conservation and we are in the thick of all of these issues. It is an honor to be chosen to lead ICL and I am humbled by the support of our members, the staff and board of directors.”

Hayes, who grew up in Idaho and lives in Boise, is a hunter, fisherman, mountain biker and skier. He has a background in biology and earth sciences.

Outgoing director Johnson expressed his faith in Hayes’ ability in the news release.

“I could not be more pleased to have Justin serve as ICL’s new executive director,” Johnson said in the news release. “He has been instrumental in shaping the program work we’ve done over these past 17-plus years. “To a certain degree, as conservation partners for many, many years, our overlap began a long time ago, and I am very confident that the many factors that make ICL successful, a great conservation investment and a great place to work are in secure hands.”

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