We spend hours tying, wading and casting, often only to give the fish we catch back to the river. We plant willows, build fences and raise money for restoration. We give back to the resources that give us our identity and grow the angling community.
As one of the oldest and largest companies in fly fishing, Orvis is acutely aware of this need to give back. Many outdoor companies have a history of conservation donations, but lets talk about Orvis for a minute, because Orvis is pretty damn generous. The Orvis Company gives 5 percent of its profit back to conservation.
In 2012 Orvis and Trout Unlimited set a goal to reconnect 1,000 miles of stream in the next 10 years. Orvis donated more than $300,000 to the project and after two years, we have reconnected 172 miles of stream by repairing fish passage barriers at problem culverts. Trout Unlimited believes we can do even more in in the next eight years and we are aggressively moving forward with numerous projects with the generous support of Orvis.
We've made a few mistakes in the past. Either from bad design, misguided efforts or lack of upkeep, thousands of streams across the country are blocked to fish passage. It only takes one head-cut culvert, one unmaintained fish ladder, one collapsed bridge on an abandoned road to close off miles of important habitat for fish... and opportunities for anglers.
Because we spend so much time repairing our past mistakes, we are well aware of the implications of misguided projects like Pebble Mine in Alaska. Orvis has been an industry leader and a critical partner with Trout Unlimited in opposing Pebble Mine to protect the headwaters of North America’s greatest salmon and trout fishery from what would be the world’s largest open-pit mine.
Considering the Pebble Mine proposal, with its 700-foot-tall earthen dam holding back toxic mine tailings, a 90-mile road system, and 15-square-mile footprint, it is hard not to think about every culvert that has ever collapsed, every dam that has failed, and the results that each cut has to the greater fishery.
In 2013, Orvis gave a $100,000 matching grant to Trout Unlimited’s “Save Bristol Bay” campaign. With three Orvis-endorsed lodges in Bristol Bay, this company is intimately aware of the value of this fishery. Not only did Orvis give financially, it dedicated valuable catalog space in 2013 to the effort to protect Bristol Bay. These catalogs reached over four million customers. So like our local volunteers at the chapter level, Orvis volunteered its valuable print space to protect Bristol Bay.
This year, at the 2014 Orvis Guides Rendezvous, Trout Unlimited was asked to present the 1,000-Mile work and Bristol Bay work to their endorsed guides and outfitters. Following the presentation, Warren Colyer, Kirk Deeter, Walt Gasson and I presented Dave Perkins of Orvis a letter of thanks from Chris Wood and a print from Bristol Bay Native Apoya Moore. It was a small token of appreciation that represents a mere fraction of all the work Orvis does on behalf of rivers—and fishing—throughout the United States. Trout Unlimited is grateful, and with the sustained help of the Orvis Company, we will continue to make angling resources better for this generation, and we will protect them for future generations as well.