RIVERS -- The crew at Silver Bow Fly Shop in Spokane Valley has a bead on the fish in the Spokane River and a watchful eye on the water, conservationists say.
The Spokane Riverkeeper and Center For Justice has awarded the 2016 Mike Chappell River Hero Award to Silver Bow owner Sean Visintainer and shop manager Michael Visintainer as well as the staff.
The annual award honors people who work to preserve and protect the Spokane River. The Riverkeeper founded the award in 2011 after the untimely death of Mike Chappell, director of Gonzaga’s Environmental Law Clinic and one of the driving forces behind starting Spokane Rivekeeper.
"Since the 1990’s when Sean acquired Silver Bow Fly Shop, the staff has been a part of river life," said Rick Eichstaedt, executive director of the Center for Justice. "Always supportive of conservation efforts, they understood the link between a healthy river and a healthy economy.
"In 2009, the shop began to focus guiding efforts on the Spokane River. At the same time they ramped up support of native trout conservation efforts, habitat improvement projects and public access projects that continue to open the river to the public.
"Sean, Michael and their staff probably know the river better than any one group in Spokane, logging many hours fishing and being 'eyes' on for issues and problems that occur out there.
"We are honored to consider these guys River Hero’s in the best sense of the phrase and we are glad they are out there."
The award was presented Friday in Spokane at the 10th Annual Dirty Martinis for Clean Water fundraiser where more than $10,000 was raised for Riverkeeper conservation efforts, said Riverkeeper Jerry White.