Kent Christopher was a champion for conservation.He was a stalwart member of the Upper Snake River Sage Grouse Working Group in eastern Idaho from its inception through the torturous finalization of a grouse management plan seven years later.He had the unique gift of being able to calmly and intently listen to opposing views and truly appreciate the sincerity of different viewpoints.Consequently he had the open mindedness to not only tolerate, but often accept opposing perspectives.The result was that he embraced the results of the process while still bringing his considerable experience, unique perspective, and new ideas to the forum.
Kent L. Christopher and the Beginning of Dubois Grouse Days- 2003
One of Kent’s new ideas was Dubois Grouse Days.In late-January 2003, just a little over two months before sage grouse in southeastern Idaho reach the peak of their annual display ritual, Kent stood in front of the Local Working Group and presented the idea of a festival to celebrate the biological resources of the high desert ecosystem and inform the public about the plight of sage and sharp-tailed grouse. Most of the local working group pooh-poohed the idea and threw up roadblocks:Who would attend?Is there enough time to organize an event before the strutting season?Is there a venue in Dubois to hold the event?Will the people of Dubois support the event? When will it happen? Who will take charge?What will we do at the event?The Idaho spring weather is too “iffy” to count on lek tours.How will we get people to the leks?Etc. etc.
Kent was not to be swayed.For questions he could not answer, he simply said “I don’t know…but let’s give it a try.”With his characteristic unwavering enthusiasm, he enlisted the help of a LWG member with experience with Ducks Unlimited events; gently persuaded others to be on the committee; he did much of the work himself; and in six weeks The First Dubois Grouse Days Ever became a reality.The first year there were less than 40 attendees and the net receipts to be used for conservation were under $200.But, those who attended were fed well, learned about grouse, saw grouse on the leks, and in general had a great time.There were more attendees the next year and the next and the next, with net receipts accelerating each year.In 2008 there were over 135 attendees during what is now a two-day event, and over $5,000 was generated for the Dubois Grouse Days Conservation Fund, recently renamed the Kent L. Christopher Conservation Fund.
Fostering Partnerships for Grouse Conservation –Based on Kent’s vision for a festival to celebrate grouse and grouse habitat, to engage, inform, and enthuse the public, and to make conservation a community effort, this is the mission of Dubois Grouse Days.It is also his legacy.May his spirit forever soar like a hawk.