Take a bow TU

As we move to the end of the year, I want to celebrate a few successes of the past few months that were made possible by the magical combination of passionate members, motivated chapters, and great staff.

A bill that passed Congress contained more conservation measures than any we have seen in six years.  In Nevada, 26,000 acres of the Pine Forest Range were designated as wilderness, honoring the agreements of a group of local stakeholders in a very conservative place, and all convened by a TU staff person. The Nevada Legislature passed a resolution praising the bill as a model for how wilderness legislation should be drafted.

In Colorado, some 107,000 acres of the Hermosa Creek watershed were protected. This area is home to one of the most genetically pure populations of Colorado River cutthroat trout. For many years, TU volunteers and staff worked with a group of local stakeholders to develop the proposal.

And, in New Mexico, the bill protects the Columbine-Hondo wilderness in the Carson National Forest while moving management of the Valles Caldera to the National Park Service. Wild and native trout in the headwaters of the Rio Grande and Red rivers will be protected in the 46,000-acre wilderness. 

Congress also passed legislation that ensures minimum flows in the Crooked River. TU staff and the Deschutes chapter have worked on this collaborative effort since 2009. This is hugely significant for great wild and native fisheries and for re-establishing salmon to the upper Deschutes for the first time in 50 years.     

And, a lot happened outside Congress, too. TU reached an agreement with an energy company on the Roan Plateau in Colorado that will cancel leases at the top of the Plateau while allowing development in adjacent areas to proceed. The Roan was a 10-year campaign that involved every element of TU: grassroots leadership, staff organizing in local communities, science, lobbying, legal acumen and stick-to-itiveness.    

While the action in Congress focused on the West, Trout Unlimited members and staff are doing amazing work in the East, too. For example, after 16 years of work with countless partners we now have spawning brook trout in six miles of PA streams that were previously dead—dead—because of acid mine drainage. 

Down the spine of the Appalachians, TU scored another victory for sound science and balance. Public lands are a birthright of every citizen in this country, and while we support responsible energy development, we want it done in a way that doesn’t harm trout and water resources. The decision by the George Washington national forest to put all but 10,000 acres of public lands off limits to energy development will protect the 60 percent of brook trout in Virginia who call the forest home. 

Helping public agencies to identify and protect the most special places is an important part of what we do. The just released 10 Special Places report outlines constructive steps that anglers can take to protect our sporting heritage. 

In New England, TU chapters and staff have recently reconnected over 140 miles of river such as the Nulhegan (Vermont) and Kinne Brook (New Hampshire) through the support of the Orvis/TU 1,000 Miles Campaign.

Whether it is the work of the national capitol chapter to maintain access to the Potomac or the New York chapters/council’s role in protecting water quality and habitat from energy development, the work of our grassroots is simply remarkable. 

We like to talk about how “we make fishing better.” And we do. But we also play a major role in protecting and restoring the lands and waters that sustain this great nation.

Thanks for making that work possible. If the end 2014 is an indication, 2015 will be a banner year!


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