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For the week of February 28 through March 6, 2001

Paul Todd: 1961-2001

Popular environmental activist and musician dies

Express Staff Writer

Hailey resident Paul A. Todd—a well-known Wood River Valley environmentalist and popular musician—was found dead last Wednesday of a self-inflicted gunshot wound. He was 39.

According to Blaine County Sheriff Walt Femling, Todd’s body was found near the mouth of Colorado Gulch, southwest of Hailey, about 10:30 p.m. Femling said Todd’s wound was caused by a .38 caliber handgun he had bought earlier that day at a local gun shop. Todd had been reported missing about 6 p.m.

Officers from the sheriff’s office and the Hailey Police Department began searching for Todd about 6:30 p.m. after his car was found near the mouth of the gulch. Femling said they had trouble tracking him from his car due to the profusion of tracks in the area. However, searchers later found a single set of tracks leading across private land to Todd’s body.

Todd was well known in the Wood River Valley for his work as manager of the Silver Creek Preserve near Picabo and as a folk and bluegrass musician.

He was hired as manager of the preserve in 1991, about 15 years after its creation, and held that job for most of the time until 1999. At that time, the preserve "was really in need of a fresh approach," said former Idaho Nature Conservancy director Guy Bonnivier, of Ketchum.

"He brought it a long way in education, outreach and public relations with the neighbors and fishermen. It used to be mainly a fishing and hunting thing. He rounded it out."

Part of Todd’s education effort was the development of a curriculum for children.

"He used to take them out there and show them what a stonefly nymph looked like," Bonnivier said. "He’d eat it and all the kids would laugh."

Bonnivier said Todd was also instrumental in helping to raise about $1 million to buy the May ranch addition to the preserve.

"I don’t think he had any idea what a great fund raiser he was. He had such a gentle personality, people were attracted to him and his sincerity. He was a terrific asset."

As a musician, Todd was probably best known for his work with Bellevue resident Gary Carlson in a duo called Sagebrush Reunion. Todd sang and played guitar and hammer dulcimer. The pair recorded two CDs together.

Todd also helped form another local group called the Wood River String Band, which has been playing at contra dances in Hailey for about five years.

"Paul was a perfectionist, but I always felt so comfortable playing with him," said fellow band member Janet Abromeit. "He put a lot of feeling in his music and he loved to play it with everyone."

Abromeit said that even on river trips and backcountry ski trips, when you went with Paul, music was always part of the experience.

"He loved it so much," she said.

The Paul Todd Memorial Fund has been created in his memory for the environmental education of children at Silver Creek Preserve. Donations may be contributed to it care of The Nature Conservancy of Idaho, P.O. Box 165, Sun Valley, ID 83353.

An obituary appears on Page A7 of this week's Idaho Mountain Express (Wednesday, February 28, 2001).

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