June 20, 2006
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Contact: Laura Hewitt, (608) 250-3534
LAKE CHARLES, La.—Thanks to his efforts to publicize the plight of the few remaining coaster brook trout in the Salmon Trout River of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, writer and guidebook author Eric Hansen was presented the 2006 Excellence in Craft Award from the Outdoor Writers Association of America on Sunday.
Hansen received the award for his essay, “It was a Big Trout. A Good Trout. A Good, Big Trout,” which appeared in the June 12, 2005, edition of the Chicago Tribune. The award, which is sponsored in part by Trout Unlimited, recognizes excellence in writing that positively impacts issues surrounding coldwater fisheries in the United States. In his essay, Hansen referenced Ernest Hemingway and the famous author’s love for the fish and the fishing in a fictional UP trout stream. Hemingway had a high regard for the wily trout of the Upper Peninsula. Today, Kennecott Corp.’s plans for a sulfide mine underneath the headwaters of the Salmon Trout River threaten that stream’s coaster brook trout, the last remnant population of these magnificent native fish in the Upper Peninsula.
“Given the plight of coaster brook trout in the Upper Peninsula, this essay fairly and accurately describes a very serious threat to one of the last viable populations of these fish left in the country,” said Laura Hewitt, director of Trout Unlimited’s Watershed Programs. “Eric’s writing proves that Hemingway’s love for the Upper Peninsula's pristine streams generations ago has survived, and that protecting them and their resources is of acute importance.”
Trout Unlimited has worked for 15 years with numerous partners across the Lake Superior Basin to carve out a brighter future for these big, lake-dwelling brook trout that use tributary streams like the Salmon Trout River each autumn for spawning. The Salmon Trout coaster population is the last viable population on the United States side of the lake except for remote Isle Royale, and is key to TU’s broad efforts to restore these fish to their native streams.
Coasters were once so common that they were caught by the barrel in Superior tributaries. Historic newspaper accounts from the late 1800s noted that streams running into Lake Superior “seem to possess exhaustless numbers of brook trout.” That’s no longer true today. Overfishing, followed by logging, mining, road construction and agricultural activity led to the general demise of America’s largest brook trout. Today, the fish survive in strongholds that include Canada’s Nipigon River, Isle Royale National Park, and the Salmon Trout River of Michigan.
“It’s possible, with a concerted conservation and restoration effort, that these fish could once again return to spawn in astonishing numbers,” Hewitt said. “But, as Eric pointed out in his essay, there is no room for error with the planned mining development in the headwaters of the Salmon Trout River. We are very concerned about the future of these remarkable fish.”
A link to the award-winning essay can be found on the front page of Eric Hansen’s Website, www.eric-hansen.com.