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New West Daily Roundup for Aug. 24, 2016

Today in New West news: Montana Governor surveys Yellowstone River, York Howell & Guymon named one of Utah Business’ “Emerging Eight,” and how “Shark Tank” helped Boise-based Proof Eyewear.

Last week, we reported that Montana FWP officials decided to close 183 miles of the Yellowstone River and associated tributaries in light of an outbreak of Proliferative Kidney Disease, caused by a jellyfish-like parasite, which has already killed thousands of whitefish and poses a threat to rainbow and Yellowstone cutthroat trout. This parasite is not a new phenomenon. Indeed, it’s well documented in the nearby Snake River system.

In light of the river closure, Montana Governor Steve Bullock ventured to the fish kill site, surveying the river from above and later giving a speech at Mallard’s Rest Fishing Access Site. According to the Bozeman Daily Chronicle, the governor stressed that “the impact goes far beyond the water’s edge,” expressing concern for how the parasite will impact the local economy. The closure is expected to last for months, however, “and fish are still dying,” according to the Chronicle:

We’re still seeing mortality increasing,” said Eileen Ryce, FWP’s hatchery bureau chief. “And that’s a concern to us.”

Tissue samples taken to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Fish Health Center in Bozeman confirmed that the fish died because of the parasite Tetracalsula bryosalmonae, which causes proliferative kidney disease. It affects fish most in poor river conditions, like low flows and high water temperatures. Flows in the Yellowstone are about 300 cubic feet per second above record lows, and temperatures have been recorded in the mid-to-high 60s, at least 10 degrees above where the parasite is known to affect fish.

Different strains of the parasite exist, and FWP is trying to determine which one has shown up in the Yellowstone. The agency is also gathering fish samples from a wide swath of the river and its tributaries to figure out where the parasite is present. Those would then be sent to the lab in Bozeman, which needs about two days to produce results.

“Everything takes time,” Ryce said, adding that they would be learning more and more information every day.


FWP regional fisheries manager Travis Horton said if some tributaries turn out to be clean, they could be opened one-by-one. But any action like that is still several days away at the very earliest.

The closure will likely be in place until river conditions improve and fish stop dying. Officials are reluctant to speculate on when the closure might be lifted, but said they do expect the river to be open next year.

Even when the river is deemed fit for recreation again, the parasite might persist in the river system.

“We don’t expect this parasite to disappear,” Ryce said.

Matson Rogers, the owner of Anglers West in Emigrant, said they have had clients cancel fishing trips because of the closure. He said he supports FWP taking steps to protect the resource, but that it is hurting his business and that of others — like boat shuttle drivers and restaurants and bars that rely on anglers who fly in from all over the country.

“The reach of this is far flung,” Rogers said.

Over in Utah, Utah Business recently announced the recipients of their annual Fast 50 Awards. Highlighting the 50 fastest growing Utah-based companies, the awards also highlight staying power; one of the award’s stipulations is that a company must report “consistent revenue progression for at least five years.” There is, however, a subset of awards entitled the “Emerging Eight,” which highlights eight companies less than five years old that nonetheless post exceptional revenue and have “proven high growth potential.”

According to a press release, the Salt Lake City-based law firm York Howell & Guymon has been selected as an award recipient. Founded in 2013, this “boutique law firm” offers “cutting edge legal services for an ever-changing landscape,” with an emphasis on estate administration, comprehensive real estate services, and charitable giving. From the YH&G press release:

York Howell & Guymon leads the way in practicing law in the 21st century by providing a majority of legal services and client interactions with emphasis on implementing technology where efficiency dictates and allowing billable hours to be spent on the specific needs and personal meetings with clients. The end result is significantly lower legal costs than traditional service models.

“Our company is deeply grateful to receive this recognition after just three years in business,” said Andrew L. Howell, co-founder and managing partner of York Howell & Guymon. “This award demonstrates that our firm has flourished in the new technology-driven economy by utilizing ever changing powerful new tools to provide unparalleled legal services in a way clients now expect.”

Added managing partner Paxton R. Guymon, ”I’ve been a part of this firm for more than two years now and I am pleased with the quality and compatibility of all of the attorneys and staff who make this firm so successful.”

Although based in Utah, the firm is licensed to practice in Texas, Arizona, Idaho, Wyoming, Alaska, California, and Washington.

Speaking of Idaho, one Boise company has been riding high since 2013, when they got a big boost from appearing on ABC’s “Shark Tank.” According to the Idaho Statesman, Boise-based Proof Eyewear, founded and run by brothers Brooks, Tanner and Taylor Dame, is now a leading provider of “hipster sunglasses made from wood and other biodegradable materials.” With nine full-time and three part-time employees and $1.6 million in sale projected for this year, distributing to 600 stores in the U.S. and 200 across 200 other countries, Proof Eyewear is also completely debt free.

It’s also, interestingly, not affiliated with any of the “Shark Tank” investors, according to the Statesman:

Q: On the show, you sought $150,000 to build inventory in exchange for 10 percent share of the company. You received two offers, both for larger shares of the company, that you turned down. How did you make that decision?

TAYLOR DAME: You could tell from the offer that they valued our company at $500,000, and we were on track to reach that in sales that year. We huddled up and said, “This doesn’t make sense.”

BROOKS: We left with two offers. We hopped in the rental car and drove down the PCH [Pacific Coast Highway]. We were quiet for a while. We wondered, “Did we do the right thing? We’re a young company, and we just walked away from six figures.” We really needed the money to make it all go. We went to Costco and got hot dogs.

Q: What do you remember about the night that your episode aired on TV?

BROOKS: There was elation, because we were finally seeing how the show shook out — pretty favorably. But by time it aired in the Mountain Time Zone, our website crashed from traffic.

We went into gorilla mode. We went to the shop, got the hosting people on the line. We were there until maybe 3 in the morning trying to get the website back up. By around 1 the next day, the site was back up. But we felt like we missed an opportunity.

Q: Did the exposure boost business?

TANNER: We had 1.2 million visitors to our website in the week after the show. We were in the shop the next day answering Twitter and filling orders. We were taking big garbage bags of orders to the Post Office. The boost was huge. It put us at a higher level than before, especially opportunities with the media.

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