Way back in the the year 2014 a new vision was concieved in central West Virginia. A vision for a 21st century TU chapter and making long term sustainable impacts fueled by a passion for native species. Something edgy and young. The Sal font Chapter was born and only chartered since February 2014. Yes, you saw that correctly - the f in font is supposed to be lower case. That's because Sal font is a play on the scientific name of the only native salmonid to the east and the state fish of West Virginia (Salvelinus fontinalis) and as every good biologist knows, the specific epithet is not capitalized.
According to Jim Collins in his best selling book "Good To Great" the best companies in the world discover their hedgehog concept and instead of trying a million different ways to profit, they discover what they are good at and be the best at that one thing. The few of us that started this chapter knew that in the area we were engaging there were very few TU members, almost no fly fishermen and a higher population of cows than people. We knew that in-person membership meetings, paper newsletters and banquets would never be our thing - those are old school ideas on chapter success. We wanted to engage and enfranchise youth and women in a way that can be a model for the future. We wanted 100% of our watershed efforts to focus on native brook trout fisheries. We resolved that while there may only be a few of us and only pocket change to work with, we would be known as the chapter that "gets stuff done!"
Our by-laws are such that we can meet and vote electronically since we are almost all young working adults with limits on our time. We chose to work around that lack of time and muscle it out because this is too important. Our fundraising would be innovative. We decided that for every dollar we raised, we would look for a match somewhere somehow and that every dollar would be stretched and actually SPENT for maximum long-term impact on our coldwater fisheries. We have only been chartered a few months, but have already raised a bank account of $1000 - a pretty good feat given the socioeconomics of our community.
We have already hosted a bluegill tournament and taught kids how to put a worm on a hook - while at the same time bridging our larger conservation message to them in a way they won't soon forget. We are engaged in two Trout In The Classroom schools where we intend to develop a higher engagement for the conservation message than the typical TIC work than is normally done.
We have established rapport with one of the largest land holding forestry companies in the state to collaborate for significant brook trout habitat restoration and reconnection on the upper Gauley River and upper Cherry River. Already, plans are coming together for tree planting and culvert removal.
We are developing efforts with TU's Home Rivers Iniative staff and the US Forest Service to engage in brook trout restoration on the headwaters of the Greenbrier River. We already have engaged in one tree planting effort on West Fork of the Greenbrier.
We are leveraging our volunteer efforts to protect West Virginia's most iconic trout fishing landscape through the first wildlands USFS National Monument in the eastern United States in the Birthplace of Rivers National Monument. A monument that would celebrate our trout fishing heritage not just on this landscape, but a monument to headwaters for the entire nation.
We are already head-long into developing a didactic e-book for ipad and kindle on native brook trout fishing in West Virginia - where, how and WHY!
It doesn't end there. We are open to new ideas, fresh thinking, and the most effective means possible to develop the vision statement of TU. If there's a way to make ourselves the 10 man wrecking ball referred to as "America's TU Chapter" we are all about it. It's our BHAG - Big Hairy Audacious Goal.