Bear River Celebration: 'We All Live Downstream'

Jun 21, 2018

Families and volunteers fish Skylar Pond at Willow Park in Logan, Utah, during the Bear River Celebration.
Credit Jackson Wilde

On June 9, dozens of families gathered with their children at Willow Park West in Logan for the 17th annual Bear River Celebration.

"Today we are giving everyone in Utah the opportunity to fish for free,” said Nicaela Haig, an enthusiastic wildlife recreation technician for the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources.

Over the buzzing of young families fishing for the first time, Haig has made her way to Logan for the Bear River Celebration for the past four years. Haig said the event is an excellent way to give everyone a tangible interaction with wildlife.

“Fishing is not only an important part of how we do wildlife conservation in Utah, but it’s also just part of our heritage here in Utah,” Haig said, emphasizing the importance of preserving fishing for future generations. “We’ve been fishing here ever since there have been Utahns."

Robert Woodbury, a Logan resident who has attended the celebration with his family for the past three years, said the ease of access and surrounding activities makes the festival a surefire activity for his kids.

“I grew up going fishing with my dad and so it’s an opportunity for me to do that with my kids and probably pass that along, and get them out of the house and out into nature,” Woodbury said.  

But free fishing isn’t the only attraction. Nancy Mesner, a water quality specialist and professor of watershed sciences at Utah State University, said the celebration has also served to teach youth about water ecology and the importance of stewardship over Cache Valley’s water sources since 2002.

According to Mesner, research shows well-constructed, educational activities for children have lasting effects as they grow up. For her, the message to the children is simple — we all live downstream.

“The water starts out clean up from the mountains and it picks up all of our crud as it works its way down through the watersheds and if we can protect that water and treat it as if it has real value to us — if we really value it — then I think everybody will win,” Mesner said.

Now in its 17th year, the celebration has been ranked one of the top 10 outdoor festivals in Utah by Stepoutside.org — a website dedicated to various outdoor activities throughout the United States.