March 30, 2006
Laura Hewitt, TU Watershed Programs Director, 608-250-3534
WASHINGTON, DC - Trout Unlimited, North America’s largest coldwater fisheries conservation organization, has received the 2006 Thomas F. Waters Stewardship Award in recognition of its work to restore the rivers and streams of the Driftless Area.
The award is sponsored by Midwest Fly Fishing Magazine and will be presented at the Great Waters Expo on April 1, 2006. Chris Wood, TU’s Vice President for Conservation, will accept the award for the organization.
“We applaud the contributions of literally hundreds of TU volunteers who have become part of this initiative,” said Tom Helgeson, Editor of Midwest Fly Fishing. “For those of us who live in the Midwest and are concerned about the future of our waters and the lands around them, TU’s Driftless initiative is right on target.”
“Trout Unlimited is truly honored to receive the Waters award,” said Charles Gauvin, TU President and Chief Executive Officer. “It is gratifying to be recognized by those individuals and organizations that live, work and fish in this remarkable landscape.”
This award follows on the heels of a recent announcement of two significant new sources of funding for TU’s Driftless initiative. In late 2005, TU and DNR partners from all four Driftless states received a two-year Multistate Conservation Grant from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Sport Fish Restoration Fund. In addition, TU – in coordination with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and a consortium of Resource Conservation and Development Agencies – helped secure a congressional appropriation of $263,000 for Driftless Area restoration.
“Momentum is really building for protection of the Driftless,” said Dave Hackbarth of the TU Hiawatha (MN) Chapter. “There is a real sense of excitement and optimism in the TU chapters working on this effort at the grassroots level.”
The Driftless Area is considered by many to be a national treasure with its unique limestone formations, springs and small trout streams. Bypassed by the last glacier, the region lies within the states of Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa and Illinois. Land use practices in the 1800s and early 1900s led to wide scale erosion, flooding and the altering of its streams and valleys. Though conditions have improved, impacts from past damage continue today in many forms, especially on the streams and rivers in the region.
Trout Unlimited has been one of the leading organizations in the efforts to restore streams and rivers in the Driftless Area. In addition to its volunteer stream restoration work, last year they released a report (The Driftless Area: A Landscape of Opportunities) calling for the wide-scale restoration of the streams and rivers of the region, which the organization believes will bring enormous environmental and economic benefits to local communities.
Trout Unlimited is North America’s leading coldwater fisheries conservation organization, with more than 150,000 members – including over 10,000 members in the states of Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, and Illinois – dedicated to the protection and restoration of trout and salmon fisheries and their watersheds.
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