The El Dorado Chapter operates in El Dorado County, California. Our core group from the broad Placerville area gathered together in 2010 to escape from the Sac-Sierra Chapter and establish our own identity. We rapidly established a chapter, began operation and nearly doubled our base membership to over 190 through a combination of significant meeting topics and enjoyable days in the woods doing service or going fishing. We are becoming known to the Forest Service, California Department of Fish and Wildlife, County Supervisors, District Attorney, Tourism Group, shopkeepers, wine makers and charities.
The Sac-Sierra chapter is a long standing monolith of 1,000+ members and 450 square miles. Their meetings were typically in Sacramento while sometimes working in El Dorado County. We in Placerville seldom made it the 60 miles to a meeting in Sacramento. John Sikora, a Sac-Sierra board member and Placerville resident, asked if we would like to start a new chapter at home. John negotiated an amicable parting with Sac-Sierra and secured their limited support. We held an organizational meeting and within six months had formed and been recognized as Trout Unlimited El Dorado, chapter 729.
El Dorado is formed around our home waters of the South Fork of the American River and comprises all of El Dorado County west of the Sierra Crest. El Dorado was chosen as a name which connects us to the region as well as its gold rush history. The local heroes were loggers or policemen. We could have drawn from history with John Marshall, Levi Straus or John Studebaker. El Dorado has secured a local connection to draw members and provides a compact service area.
Membership meetings are held monthly except for the fishing months of July and August and of course December. We attempt to attract knowledgeable speakers each month and include Fish Tales to stimulate interest and broaden horizons. Many attend to find out about local fishing or find someone to fish with. Sometimes we will have an outdoor meeting at a local winery. We try to maintain a calendar of events which are directed to our mission, will draw participation, provide enjoyment, and keep people involved. We have been identified as the most active chapter in the state.
We have established a connection with the El Dorado National Forest as the forest occupies a majority of the county and contains the South Fork American River and its tributaries. We generally hold our meetings in their conference room. Our connection to the Forest Service actually started before we were formed when some participated in stream surveys with the USFS, CA DFW, and the local irrigation service. We have grown to working with the District Rangers and their technical staff in development of assorted restoration and fuels reduction programs. We have ongoing projects placing signs and waste collectors at fishing access points in the region. We also conduct periodic stream cleanup operations in the forest.