Chapters, Councils, and our National Staff are constantly battling policy and legislation to ensure that our cold, clean, fishable water stays that way. As a Chair of one of these Councils I dread my state's legislative session each year. "Wonder what clean water protections they'll put on the block this year?" I ask myself. Our staff grinds on Capitol Hill daily to ensure that critical policy of national importance is in the best interest of us anglers. It is not common that we get the opportunity to make a lasting, permanent impact for our mission, particularly as grassroots members. Each year, Councils blast out action alerts to their membership asking you to write your officials concerning policy. We hope with each of these efforts that TU members won't simply hot potato those action alerts on to the trash bin, but seriously consider the message and write your officials. These letters matter!
West Virginia Council has become the leader in a campaign to give permanent protection to an iconic landscape that holds some very regionally significant headwaters. Over half the nation's population is within a day's drive of the Birthplace of Rivers. The trout fishing in this area has been written about since the early pioneers carved their way westward and yet we have witnessed some incredibly damaging impacts to these streams just in this generation already. Our brothers and sisters in the New Mexico Council were recently successful in getting the Rio Grande Del Norte National Monument established. Colorado Trout Unlimited is working for Brown's Canyon National Monument. Other Councils are involved in similar type advocacy from Wilderness bills to Monument campaigns. In each scenario, unique cultural obstacles make these campaigns difficult and we need every last grassroots member to pay attention and get involved. In our campaign for the Birthplace of Rivers National Monument, we have discovered that many locals simply do not understand what a National Monument is since there are no USFS managed National Monuments in the eastern United States. This leads to sometimes incredible misunderstandings. You can get involved by simply learning about the subject and talking about it when the opportunity presents itself. You can write your Senators and let them know how you feel. You can get involved with your Chapter or Council's leadership and volunteer to assist in visits to your elected official's offices. Remember that your TU leaders are volunteers too!
I find it quite amazing when I visit Washington D.C. to visit my Senator's that they not only keep track of your letters, but many they can recall from memory. I'm not joking. As we sit in those offices discussing issues, in our case the Birthplace of Rivers National Monument, the staffers of our elected officials can often recall letters right down to who sent them at times. So don't send those action alerts off to the trash bin. Write those letters. Tell your friends about your what advocacy your TU is involved in and even if you don't live in West Virginia, we sure do covet your efforts of support in our campaign. We in the Mountain State have been writing to stop the Pebble Mine and in support of other land protections that benefit sportsmen in states where we fish and hunt. The "ONE TU" doesn't operate in just an up and down fashion, but laterally too. We are all in this together.