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Yes, why do they fish?


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Knowing my interest in fly fishing, it is no surprise that I got an issue of Fly Rod and Reel for my birthday. One of the articles prompted me to rephrase Mike Clifford's question.

 

Why do they (TU) fish when they do not have too?

 

This article sheds tremendous light on the famous trout fishing organization. Namely, it isn't a trout fishing organization. When push comes to shove, the National Organization, though not all the local chapters, points to its charter "to restore, preserve, and conserve" cold water fisheries. They do not do access. Indeed, for the last two years the national organization has been promoting a universal prohibition of allowing local chapters to engaging "access" issues. Apparently TU would conserve the resource but refuse to go to bat for your right to fish it. Such "access" activity is not considered, in their lingo, "effective use of their limited resources."

 

Of course some representatives from local chapters in Montana and Wisconsin are not happy with this turn of affairs. They say in effect that they are not going to put any sweat or money into conserving a stream or river they cannot fish. To them, the ban would be a stab in the back.

 

You should read the article to get the whole picture.

 

http://www.flyrodreel.com/index.php/page/i...007_07/id/19311

 

I won't go on about the "unlimited" organization that seems to be struggling with so many self imposed limitations. Better men than I have bashed this misnamed group. I just hope that the Smallmouth Alliance and its state chapters do not paint themselves into a similar corner. Reading our charters I see the same emphasis on development and preservation of Smallmouth Waters nationally and state by state. Like TU's our charters do not say anything specific about rights to fish the resource we create and conserve. Is that an omissiion that will lead to problems down the road? If TU made a mistake, can we learn from it?

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Mis-named group, what's your problem with TU?

 

Not only is TU not a "fishing club" (never designed that way and never will be that way, we are a Conservation group) but it is not a fly fishing club either. Nothing in the Charter nor Mission Statement includes the words "fly" or "fly fishing".

 

As for the access issue: TU has never put $1 of their money into any stream restoration project that does not have public access through permanant easements and that's the way it should be, in my less than humble opinion.

 

TU National has decided that rather than get into a prolonged and expensive court battle over access rights, they would sit by the sidelines and let the courts decide. Not a popular move and this decision has cost them some members but they are staying true to their Mission Statement.

 

TU in concert with the states' DNRs, Fish and Wildlife, Forest Service, various counties' soil conservation departments and local NGO's are staying true to their Mission....they are conserving and protecting the watersheds. All of the available money (most of which comes from the $10 Inland Trout Stamp) for stream restoration is going to stream restoration, not court battles.

 

Pick another organization to attack, Mike. We're the good guys.

 

Joseph

 

.....BTW, there is no downside to wild trout.

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The Inland Trout Stamp funds stream restoration?

I wasn't aware of that.

In what ways?

 

As for charters and the like as "Smallmouth Alliances" are concerned, any state could create one right this minute and would be accountable to nobody.

There is no central authority at the present time.

The ISA lends it's resources to whatever we feel is pertinent for conservation, access...the list is long.

 

Positive influences on natural resources and the future of fishing depend on ANY help that is available, and we fill those needs as a grass-roots volunteer organization.

That isn't to say discussions aren't on the table to perhaps expand our reach, as it is always a possibility.

Passion+Time+Money.

The magic formula that is very difficult to maintain on a consistent basis, as all 3 must be part of the equation for it to work.

 

We have done pretty well for ourselves so far.

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Guest rich mc

mike as you know illinois is one of the worst states for stream access. we have habitat issues that are more important. as of now we will leave access issues up to the idnr and forest preserves and park districts, and i will say that that is moving along . many of us believe that even if we improve habitat on a mostly private stream, it still benefits the WHOLE watershed . rich

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Mike Clifford,

 

On top of the license fee in Wisconsin, those who fish for Inland trout must purchase a $10 Trout Stamp. This goes for residents as well as non-residents, full season or 1 day, it matters not. These Trout Stamp funds are dedicated monies that go dierctly to stream restoration, not stocking, not to the DNR general budget, not for research but Stream Restoration period.

 

The Great Lakes Trout Stamp (for those who fish the Big Lake or it's tributaries for salmonid species) funds also are dedicated funds and go to support stocking programs that include Coho, Chinnook and Steelhead.

 

 

Local Chapters of TU raise funds which get matched through the Embrace-a-Stream grant program from TU National. This amount gets matched through the DNR (Trout Stamp money), and matched again through County Soil Conservation departments from participating counties (principaly Vernon, La Crosse and Monroe counties in S.W. Wisconsin) and again from U.S. Fish & Wildlife and perhaps the Forest Service, especially if the stream (or it's headwaters) originate in a State or National forest. Therefore a $5000 donation from a local Chapter can get extrapolated into $100,000.

 

It takes about $150,000 per stream mile to rehabilitate a stream. Some 3,000 stream miles have been worked on in Wisconsin alone plus an equal (give-or-take) in Michigan, Minnesota and Iowa.

 

Hmmmm, we've left out Illinois. Good reason; there is little public access on Illinois trout streams (unlike Wisconsin and Montana where all the water is held in Public Trust, and TU is waiting for the courts to enforce access laws that are already on the books but being fought by Charles Schwab and Huey Lewis) which could be as good as those in Wisconsin (historically, they were before the turn of the century) but there is no interest from the IDNR in restoring these streams.

 

Why no interest from the IDNR? Catch-22 situation. No access = no fishers No fishers = no pressure on the INDR to actively promote and fund restoration. There is no qualified trout biologist on the IDNR staff. They seem more content to dump hatchery rainbows in Rock Creek (where they don't belong) and call it a trout stream. The stamp you buy in Illinois pays for stocking these fish.

 

With access, you have interest and with interest you have co-operation with the DNR's and NGO's.

 

 

Ergo the dispute within TU that Mike G. is alluding to.

 

Joseph

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Lastly, a lot of the rock rolling and sweat equity is done by TU members from neighboring states. Their collective attitude has been "Hey, if I can't fish a stream that I am asked to work on, I won't participate" and it's a valid point.

 

How many members of the ISA would raise money for and participate in a work project on private land where they (and their children and their grandchildren) would not be allowed access?

 

Then again, how many members of the ISA would want their treasury depleted ( and not have any money to do any Conservation work) by a court battle over access. So the ISA Board might say "We won't get involved in access issues" and the membership quits in droves over this and there is no membership income.

 

Catch-22 all over again.

 

So you might contemplate, from all sides, the dilema TU is trying to work out before you go bashing this organization Mike G.

 

 

 

Joseph

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The ISA has long admired the work of TU and we have often followed the example of that group.

 

One look at the ISA boards shows how important fishing is here. One look at our conservation funding and accomplishments shows the importance of conservation to this group. If TU leaves access issues to others, that doesn't mean it won't get done. As delicate as trout streams are, their priority seems a logical one. In my opinion, the ISA has done a good job balancing our priorities...and it is balance that is the issue here in the end.

 

Joseph,, I too thought the trout stamp money went back into raising and stocking trout. I'd like to know more about the specific programs that program is funding. If they really are putting funds into ecosystem based restoration, that deserves a second look, but I don't see yet how they have funds to raise their trout unless they're plowing back into their stocking program.

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Trout stocking from hatcheries is funded through general fishing license fees.

 

I differentiate hatchery stocking from trout that naturally reproduce (over-reproduce actually) in streams such as Timber Coulee in Vernon & La Crosse counties and are moved. That stream among others, produce too many trout.

 

Dave Vitrano and his staff move some 900 pair of brown trout from Timber Coulee (plus some trout necropsied for Methyl-Mercury amounts and some DNA that gets frozen) to other streams that need help. this takes place the first weekend of October after the Inland Trout season closes. This project is funded through Trout Stamp money.

 

Ultimately, the goal is to not have to stock trout and the WDNR is getting much closer to that goal ( there is a lot less stocking than you might think) if Global Warming doesn't destroy the whole damn thing.

 

As you know the brook trout of Wisconsin are native (to Illinois, as well); they have always been there. Brown trout, an invasive species if you will, reproduce like crazy in the right environent and TU, WDNR and a whole bunch of flyfishers are now wedded to the idea of wild browns.

 

 

 

 

 

Joseph

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Ultimately I don't care how TU resolves its family feud over the relative value of using limited resources to protect access or using limited resources for conservation efforts. ISA is about Smallmouth Bass fishing in Illinois. Since Ducks Unlimited, Trout Unlimited, and Muskies Inc are held up as models, however, I was just wondering if NSA and ISA could learn something from TU's recent history.

 

I was glad to see Mike Cliffords remark:

 

"As for charters and the like as "Smallmouth Alliances" are concerned, any state could create one right this minute and would be accountable to nobody.

There is no central authority at the present time.

 

The ISA lends it's resources to whatever we feel is pertinent for conservation, access...the list is long."

 

And Tim Smith's comments on balance are right on:

 

"One look at the ISA boards shows how important fishing is here. One look at our conservation funding and accomplishments shows the importance of conservation to this group. If TU leaves access issues to others, that doesn't mean it won't get done. As delicate as trout streams are, their priority seems a logical one. In my opinion, the ISA has done a good job balancing our priorities...and it is balance that is the issue here in the end."

 

Wisconsin DNR has enviable fish management and conservation programs with funds from licenses and stamps earmarked for DNR activity. Their access laws are much more enlightened (20th Century). However, I live in Illinois where the DNR is severely underfunded and access laws are Feudal (11th Century). Though I may be wrong, I think access is a much more important issue in Illinois than it is in Montana and Wisconsin. As Joseph suggests, we have to be able to get to the stream before we can restore it.

 

Now I think I have learned something.

 

NSA Dedicated To Creating World Class Smallmouth Bass Fishing

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In terms of a "National Smallmouth Alliance" from my perspective it may have started as a good idea years ago but that rocket has run short on fuel. The Web site has not been updated in years and many of the state ("regional") chapters they link to are defunct or seem to be hanging on by a thread. It feels as if the corporate headquarters has gone out of business even though some of the regional offices are still running and successful. I've always thought that the ISA is "THE" model for a successful alliance. Not to toot our own horn but we have had many other alliances come to us for guidance. It all boils down to who steps up and takes on work. We've been extremely fortunate to have good leadership and some really hard working and talented folks on staff. The fact that people volunteer their time to keep an organization like ours running in the name of fishing, fun, and conservation is pretty darn neat!

 

Well stated Eric, and kudos to our leaders and representatives.

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From Mike G:

Ultimately I don't care how TU resolves its family feud over the relative value of using limited resources to protect access or using limited resources for conservation efforts.

 

Oh you care, you're the one who brought it up. The tenor of your original post was "Thank God we're not TU" and then your statements were challanged, now you're back peddling.

 

Now on a positive note, perhaps the ISA, TU and the FFF could work with the IDNR and the Park Districts to improve Illinois access?

 

Joseph

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The topic of access is as slippery a slope as they come, maybe more so than pollution.

I'm glad it was mentioned regarding court cases, as this is exactly the kind of work the ISA does NOT do, nor will we ever if we intend to remain "grass roots".

Groups like Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership (of which the ISA is a partner) and the like are the ones that have the deep pockets and political clout to go quite a few rounds in the ring.

 

An interesting concept that Joseph alludes to is that of neighboring states being blind to those bordering them, at least from a grass roots level.

Western states are mandated by law as to what a state can and cannot allow where rivers and streams are concerned, specifically if the actions or inactions negatively affect those downstream.

Here in the lower Midwest, it seems most are already resigned to the fact that we live among urban environments and that it's only a matter of time before our waters are beyond any semblance of hope.

This mindset is what some of us are eager to change, but everything takes time.

 

Take for instance pollution reporting signs.

Most have never given it a second thought, but if groups like ours were to explain the benefits these present for THEIR flows in neighboring states, the end result for us is certainly positive as well. The "we all live downstream" mentality, though I believe its a term that has been overused to the point of being cliche.

With that line of thinking, it would be to our advantage to cross state lines and educate others in this regard.

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With that line of thinking, it would be to our advantage to cross state lines and educate others in this regard.

 

Interesting topic and thread.

 

I've learned or at least thought about something new today!

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In terms of a "National Smallmouth Alliance" from my perspective it may have started as a good idea years ago but that rocket has run short on fuel.

 

It seems the "access-preservation" discussion has run it's course here, but this might be the start of a new direction in this thread.

 

The original effort to start a National Alliance may have crashed and burned, but the need for cooperation between state Smallmouth Alliances has not gone away. We've talked to the Wisconsin Smallmouth Alliance this year about efforts to restore the Wisconsin Driftless (and TU as well). They were co-applicants in our grant to Patagonia and there is interest in more cooperation between states. The issues Joseph is discussing regarding Wisconsin production of trout in Illinois waters are prime examples of the need for this kind of discussion.

 

Other groups do come to us for guidance. Some of them are interested in a regional alliance or confederacy too. I don't see any kind of "one and done" rule that prohibits working more closely with those groups and expanding our scope. In fact, the idea of an umbrella organization for the Smallmouth Alliances is far from a dead idea. To the contrary, other groups are ready to talk about that idea. They ARE talking about that idea.

 

I'm convinced it could happen.

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It seems the "access-preservation" discussion has run it's course here, but this might be the start of a new direction in this thread.

 

The original effort to start a National Alliance may have crashed and burned, but the need for cooperation between state Smallmouth Alliances has not gone away.

 

Tim,

 

I agree that this thread has served its purpose. But I am curious to see more details on what is going on between state Smallmouth Alliances and between SAs and other organizations. IMHO, co-operation between state SAs deserves a thread of its own (so as not to get lost here). If you wouldn't mind starting it, I would be grateful.

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I have been reading lately about America's greatest companies and the role that their mission plays in holding people together and charting a common course. I am more impressed than ever with the ISA three-headed mission of Conservation, Education, and Social Events. We seem to be keeping a good balance of the three. Maybe maintaining this balance will be a key to avoiding the problems detailed about TU. The three-headed mission is catchy, memorable, balanced, and includes something for just about everyone. I don't remember who came up with, but they done good.

Gregg

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From Mike G:

 

If you wouldn't mind starting it, I would be grateful

 

 

Mike, helps us all out and please identify your fence and tell us which side of it you are on.

 

Just what is it that you are looking for? Are you asking the ISA to get involved in stream access? Are you looking for the ISA to advocate/initiate a stronger National prganization?

 

You jump on TU and then ask another poster to start a thread in hopes that there will be a discussion that might support your side? Help us all out and state you position.

 

Respectfully, you gotta be kidding.

 

Joseph

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Never a dull moment with the Joseph/Mike G debates.

 

I'd like to know what people think of collaborative efforts as well.

 

We happen to know quite a bit about what it takes to make it happen, but everything that is done requires volunteers in this realm.

 

Since you brought it up, Mike G........

Get some thoughts together on what you'd like to see, do some serious Googling, start a thread and you'll get plenty of feedback.

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I can tell there is more going on here in this conversation than just arguing about priorities. I don't want to know! :)

 

 

But here's why I'm not renewing my membership with TU this year. I have a little bit of money to give to charity each year and some of it goes to humans and some of it goes to the environment.

 

As far as the environmental side of things goes, I'm interested in ecosystem health and protecting native species. I want the organization I support to think carefully about the whole range of conservation and preservation priorities that are out there, and invest strategically taking into account the science of the present and predictions of the future. So an organization like The Nature Conservency or others is the kind of thing I support for this kind of priority.

 

I also want to support the activities that I enjoy, including cold water fishing, but I recognize that it takes a healthy watershed for it to be a possibility. So I've supported TU in the past to promote work that is specifically on the ecosystem type that I enjoy _using_. That means I'm disproportionately funding cold water fisheries as compared to the whole gamut of ecosystems that an organization like TNC would address. The reason I'm doing that is because I like fishing, not because I think that cold water fisheries are particularly under-addressed by restoration activities.

 

Now when it comes to access, yes it's true that it can be a real resource sponge... soaking up lots of funds that would go into litigation. But it's also true that it can be a real simple thing, like buying access rights to a small piece of land connected to a stream from like-minded landowners. What I want in an organization is some real critical thinking that can identify opportunities and do a decent job of risk vs. reward and invest wisely. Sure the perfect balance doesn't exist in the real world, but I'm not expecting perfection, I'm expecting passion and action.

 

Frankly, the access thing came as a one-two punch. First it essentially said that TU is incapable of making wise decisions about pursuing access and will just ignore it. Secondly the organization acted like the membership was stupid for thinking that TU supported improving access in the first place.

 

So I figure, now I know... and I'm changing my donations accordingly.

 

-jamie s

 

p.s. And as this relates to ISA... My main hope is that we recognize that there are risks and rewards when it comes to getting into access issues... and we consider each opportunity case by case. People recognize and support organizations like that.

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Well said Jamie, but that is exactly what TU National has actively chosen to do, evaluate access on a case-by-case basis. (The Montana fight with Charles Schwab and Huey Lewis is headed to court and Donny Beavers has lost two court decisions on the Little J and stands to lose again on his other project so for now, the court system is working.)

 

TU National did not do the greatest job of communicating this to their membership, however and I too, am not pleased with the leadership and the way this decision was handled. Charles Gauvin has forgotten that we are in fact a grassroots organization. All of the HI work is authored by and initially funded by each induividual Chapter. Support your local TU Chapter, they can use your help.

 

Joseph

 

 

,,,,,,as for Mike G and me, full respect all around, we just see things differently.

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