Born in Chicago, Guy Bonnivier learned at an early age he was not suited to urban life. Trapping his first hawk at the age of fifteen, he went on to become a master falconer. At seventeen, he moved west to live and hunt with his birds. Two years later, a retired Wyoming Game and Fish officer convinced Guy to return to school. He graduated from Southern Illinois University at Carbondale.
While working for the U.S. Forest Service in Arizona in the 1970s, Guy was repairing a pipe on a dry 10,000-gallon metal stock tank in the Sonoran Desert. Curious, he climbed inside and dug out the remains of dozens of hawks, falcons, owls and other birds from the deep sediment in the tank bottom. He was so disturbed by the drowned birds he found his writing voice for the first time, authoring articles for ‘Defenders of Wildlife’ about the need for escape ramps in the thousands of stock water tanks across the vast, arid American West.
While in route to report on fires in the Salmon River Wilderness in Idaho, Guy drove through an awe-inspiring pastoral valley. Tens of thousands of mallards and sandhill cranes, in wave after wave, settled into golden fields of barley stubble against a backdrop of bright-orange cottonwoods, laid out under a cloud-free September sky. So taken by the sight, he pulled over and watched the birds for hours, then followed them as they went to roost on a nearby spring-fed wetland – Silver Creek. As the sun set that evening, he decided then and there to call the place home.
Guy became the first employee of The Nature Conservancy in Idaho, when he was hired to take on the “impossible” task of restoring the degraded Silver Creek and its once-famous fishery. Over two decades, he worked with farmers, ranchers, sportsmen, and government agencies in the watershed to establish one of the most successful private stream conservation projects for public benefit to date, and he became an early proponent of modern fisheries management.
He leveraged his conservation knowledge across forty years and accomplished land, water, and wildlife conservation across Idaho and the west. That same passion led him to work with local conservationists in Baja California Sur, Mexico, to help establish Bahía de Loreto National Park, a 2,000-square-kilometer marine protected area in the Sea of Cortez.
Now retired, Guy spends his time writing, dividing the year between a self-built cabin on the Big Lost River in Central Idaho in summer, and a home in the shadows of the Chiricahua Mountains of Southeast Arizona in winter.