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Local Ranger Named Ranger of the Year
Kirk Flannigan has been named Ranger of the Year of the Intermountain West.
Friday, November 5, 2021


Kirk Flannigan, area ranger for the Sawtooth National Recreation Area, has been named Ranger of the Year for the Intermountain Region by Regional Forester Mary Farnsworth.

Flannigan was nominated for the award by Jim DeMaagd.

“Kirk has demonstrated leadership in private lands, the Stanley to Redfish trail and recreation impacts due to the large numbers of private citizens getting out on pubic lands during the COVID pandemic,” DeMaagd said. “He has demonstrated leadership working with the public and his staff during difficult situations.”

Flannigan presides over a 730,824-acre area that will celebrate its 50th anniversary on Aug. 22, 1972. The glaciated area includes the Sawtooth Wilderness and White Clouds and Hemingway-Boulders wilderness areas. It includes the headwaters of the Salmon River, also known as the River of No Return, as well as the headwaters of the Big Wood, Boise and Payette rivers.

And it includes the jagged Sawtooth Mountain peaks, the 11,815-foot Castle Peak and such lake treasures as Redfish, Stanley and Sawtooth lakes.

Flannigan told those attending a discussion at Sun Valley Museum of Art a month ago that the SNRA logged just 6,500 visitors in 1965—when there were wilderness rangers stationed at every trailhead. It’s been logging between 27,000 and 30,000 annually since the pandemic started. And the SNRA must lean on the help of volunteers for trail work since Congress has become so stingy.

Flannigan worked with the Blaine County Recreation District to restore portions of the Harriman Trail following flooding in 2017. More recently, he oversaw the establishment of designated primitive camping areas in the Prairie Creek area as designated in the Big Wood Travel Plan. And just this past month he partnered with the BCRD to build two large parking areas near Frostbite Flats and Prairie Creek to accommodate the growing number of cross-country skiers.

Flannigan came to the Sun Valley area in 2015 from the Deschutes National Forest where he had been deputy district ranger on the Bend-Fort Rock Ranger District.

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