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Paul, Katie Link donate Lost River Geosciences Field Station to Idaho State University

Posted February 3, 2010

Idaho State University geosciences professor Paul Link and his wife Katie were recognized for donating the $200,000 ISU Lost River Field Station to the Geosciences Department in a ceremony on Wednesday.

"Having the opportunity to provide a field based research and teaching facility enhances ISU's recognition as a leader in geosciences," said ISU President Arthur Vailas.

Paul Link, second from left, helps with the field station flag.The Links donated nearly eight acres of land and buildings located on the banks of the Big Lost River in the shadow of Borah Peak, Idaho’s tallest mountain, about 20 miles north of Mackay. It has some of the most stunning views in Idaho, with the Big Lost River Range to the north and the Pioneer Mountains to the south.

"It seemed like now was the time to take that next step and lock in the goal we've had for 29 years," Link said.

When Link came to ISU in 1980, Tom Ore, director of the field geology course, told him that the geology department needed its own field camp facility.  In 1985, David Rodgers, current ISU geosciences chair, took over the field course, moved it to central Idaho in 1990, and operated the field camp from several different ranches for the next 10 years.

Lost River Geosciences Field Camp with the Lost River Range in the background.In 1995, Paul and Katie Link purchased 10 acres on the Big Lost River north of Mackay, with the idea that this might be the ideal spot for a field camp.  In 2001 at a department retreat, Scott Hughes, former chair of the geosciences department and current interim dean of the ISU College of Arts and Sciences, and Link decided to build a facility. It was constructed in 2002, directed by Allan Priddy, a local contractor and adjunct instructor at ISU. The facility has been upgraded over the years, primarily by geology students and faculty. 

"Completion of the project depended on Allan, his helpers, and the volunteer efforts of many students, faculty and their family members," Hughes said.

Students at work inside the Lost River Field Station. "Paul has been very generous with his time and resources for years," Rodgers said. "This is one more example of how he has shared himself with the University, by making this long-lasting gift to the department that will be used by ISU students and faculty for years to come."

The Lost River Field Station, which hosted its first students in 2002, is one of the top-rated in the country. Rodgers attributed its success to the high quality of instruction at the facility, the topnotch accommodations, the geological diversity of the area around Mackay, the camp’s proximity to other geological wonders such as the Craters of the Moon National Monument and Yellowstone National Park, and the hospitality of people in the Lost River Valley.

"The field camp is a critical component of the education for our undergraduate students in particular," Rodgers said. "It’s a capstone (five-week) course that takes everything they’ve learned in the classroom and puts it in a field setting. It teaches the scientific method and how to distinguish data from interpretation."

Main camp facility with teepees in the background. The camp not only attracts ISU geosciences majors, but also brings in students from across the nation. It serves as a primary recruiting tool for the ISU geosciences graduate program.

"Many of the students who come to our camp go on to attend high-end graduate schools, including ours," Rodgers said. "Every year we get at least one or two graduate students from the camp, many of whom end up pursuing their careers in the Northern Rockies.  In this way, the field camp attracts high quality scientists to Idaho."

The field station consists of "Borah View," a 30-by-50-foot structure converted for a variety of uses by students and staff, and "Cobble Court," a camping area that features tent and teepee sites and fire pits. Borah View is essentially a pole barn that has been modified to house students for eating, working and holding classroom discussions. It has a kitchen/dining area, a large work area with tables, an office loft featuring computers, phones and modem access to the Internet, and three bathrooms. Students at the camp sleep in wall tents, teepees or in campers at Cobble Court.

For more information on ISU geosciences call (208) 282-3365, e-mail geology@isu.edu or visit http://geology.isu.edu/. For information specifically about the field camp visit http://geology.isu.edu/FieldCamp/.