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River Runners Eddy Into Hall of Fame

Four whitewater greats – including three women -- will be inducted soon into the River Runners’ Hall of Fame.

One is Bill Belknap, whose photographs helped document a golden age of river running history. Botanists Elzada Clover and Lois Jotter Cutter will also be added to the roster. In 1938 when the river was running big, they became the first women to run the Colorado River from beginning to end as part of an expedition with another river-running icon, Norm Nevills.

Tim Glenn, director of the John Wesley Powell River History Museum in Green River, says the Hall of Famers inspire everyone – not just river runners.

“I think first and foremost,” he says, “it’s this idea of exploration, which is so central to U.S. history and the West. Most of these river runners – they’re explorers, and that speaks the heart of who we are.”

The fourth inductee will be folklorist, singer and activist Katie Lee. At 96, Lee’s a living legend who’s best known for fighting to preserve wilderness. Her fury about the flooding of Glen Canyon a half century ago still resonates with those who love wild places, and it’s still fierce.

“I love that place like a woman loves a man,” says Lee. “And that, I think, captures, their inner core. They, they understand it – women especially.”

A Hall of Fame banquet and celebration is planned for late September in Green River. And Lee is the subject of a new film, Kick Ass Katie Lee, that’s being featured by Glen Canyon Institute in Salt Lake City next month.

Judy Fahys has reported in Utah for two decades, covering politics, government and business before taking on environmental issues. She loves covering Utah, where petroleum-pipeline spills, the nation’s radioactive legacy and other types of pollution provide endless fodder for stories. Previously, she worked for the Salt Lake Tribune in Utah, and reported on the nation’s capital for States News Service and the Scripps League newspaper chain. She is a longtime member of the Society of Environmental Journalists and Investigative Reporters and Editors. She also spent an academic year as a research fellow in the Knight Science Journalism program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In her spare time, she enjoys being out in the environment, especially hiking, gardening and watercolor painting.
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