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Idaho Jr. Steeheads' Topher Jones
Matches Love of Hockey with Outdoors

by Greg Bates
USA Hockey News, April 2, 2022

Off the Ice, this Eighth Grader is dedicated to preserving the Enviroment.

Lower Granite Reservoir temperatures are kept below 20F with inflow from the depths of Dworshak Dam upstream.  This cooling effect does not, however, propogate downstream through the remaing three Lower Snake Reservoirs. Topher Jones' passion for preserving the outdoors and wildlife is only trumped by his love of hockey.

The member of the Idaho Jr. Steelheads 14U youth team is taking a few days away from his effort to save salmon from going extinct so he can compete in the Chipotle-USA Hockey Youth Tier II 14U National Championships in Kalamazoo, Mich., with his teammates. Jones, who is an eighth grader, founded the Lonesome Larry Project in October 2019.

"I've always really cared about the outdoors and it's always just been something special," Jones said. "Sometimes I go hiking with my family and we go camping and stuff, and when I look around I realize how important the outdoors is to me. When I learned about how salmon and other fish species were being threatened in the northwest, I thought that I needed to do something about it."

While in one of his middle school classes, Jones learned how salmon and steelhead make a roughly 900-mile trip from the mountains of Idaho and Canada to the Pacific Ocean. After a few years, the fish head back up north. In 1992, instead of hundreds or thousands of sockeye salmon returning to Redfish Lake in Idaho, only one made it back. That salmon was nicknamed "Lonesome Larry."

Jones came up with the idea to sell salmon-themed socks and a few other items to raise money for the Idaho Fish & Wildlife Foundation. To date, Jones has donated $30,000. Purchases can be made on Jones' website:

"I really did not think it would come this far, although I'm really happy that it did," Jones said. "My goal is to keep it growing and to go as far as possible to save the salmon. My view on the problem is that if something doesn't get done, these fish are going to go extinct, so we might as well try and help."

Topher's dad, Gordon Jones -- who is also a Jr. Steelheads coach -- has helped his son with the project. But it's taken on a life of its own.

"I'm really proud of him," he said. "Topher's definitely kind of the outdoorsman in the family, and that kind of led to his project that he's been doing."

In 2021, Topher Jones was named the Youth Conservationist of the Year by the Idaho Department of Fish and Game. He's also earned a number of other awards relating to his project.

"It was really special to me when I was named that, although when I got awarded that it just reminds me that there's still more to do," Jones said.

Greg Bates, Boise
Idaho Jr. Steeheads' Topher Jones Matches Love of Hockey with Outdoors
USA Hockey News, April 2, 2022

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