V. Don Olson
Don Olson of Salmon is being inducted into the 2012 Eastern Idaho Agriculture Hall of Fame for outstanding contributions to conservation, community involvement and ranching in the Lemhi Valley
Although he would rather be known as a cowman, Olson is an excellent crop manager. He is considered to be among the leaders in native and improved wet meadows operations in Central Idaho. He also has a keen interest in draft horses and mules. Along with his family, Olson participates in parades, gives rides, feeds cattle and enjoys various competitions. Olson, his family and their livestock have been featured in various publications including “The Draft Horse Journal” and “Western Mule Magazine”.
Always the cattleman, Olson was able to purchase a portion of the Joe Tonsmeire Ranch on Geertson Creek in 1995. The transaction was brokered by the Nature Conservancy. This was the first transaction in the Lemhi Valley in which the value of a non-development conservation easement was used to reduce the value of a ranch so it could be purchased for its agricultural value.
Active in public life, Olson was elected to the ASC County Committee where he served as a member and chairman for several years. He was elected to the Lemhi County Cattle and Horse Growers Board of Directors and served in all offices for that organization. In 1988 he became a director of the Eastern Idaho Agriculture Hall of Fame and has served as chairman of the Board.
Of all his public involvement, however, Olson is best known as chairman of the Model Watershed Project Advisory Committee since its formation in 1993. This project has developed into the Upper Salmon Basin Watershed Program. Since its inception, the program has sponsored or been involved in over 600 projects to enhance wildlife, particularly Endangered Species Act listed species in the Salmon River Basin. Don has also been involved in the negotiating committee attempting to reach a conservation agreement with National Marine Fisheries Service for the past 11 years. This proposed agreement must be practical, achievable and protect all ranchers in the Lemhi Basis. Olson’s practicality and knowledge of the Lemhi Basin has been invaluable in representing ranching interests in these negotiations.