For decades, Trout Unlimited has leveraged the clout of its grass-roots sportsmen—primarily anglers—to accomplish great things on the ground all over the country.
We’ve protected, reconnected and restored important trout and salmon fisheries from coast to coast, and as an organized cadre of interested members, we strive today to sustain our pastime beyond many of our conceivable lifetimes. It’s noble work, without a doubt.
On the public lands front, TU is again flexing the collective muscle of its membership, and it’s joining with other sportsmen-oriented conservation groups to help achieve a new direction in public lands use, specifically regarding the development of oil and gas on land that belongs to every American.
Today, more than 26 million acres of public land in the West is leased for gas and oil drilling—that’s a land mass the size of Ohio. What’s perhaps most troubling is the rush to lease more and more public land—much of which boasts irreplaceable hunting and fishing resources. For instance, in northwest Colorado, 90 percent of the Piceance Basin gas field is leased, or is available for leasing, for gas and oil drilling. The Roan Plateau, which represents only 1.5 percent of the entire Piceance Basin and is home to several conservation populations of Colorado River cutthroat trout, is slated for leasing in August of this year. This is despite the best efforts of hunters and anglers from all over Colorado, who oppose the development of this small oasis of wildlife habitat within the basin.
TU and its partners in the newly formed Sportsmen for Responsible Energy Development campaign—the National Wildlife Federation and the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership—understand that, in order to protect the places we fish and hunt, change must come at the most fundamental level.
While energy development here at home is particularly important given the global political climate, sportsmen in the West aren’t willing to see the streams they fish and the country they hunt turned under in a rabid search for more fossil fuels that, under better management practices, can be accessed in a responsible manner.
Last month in Jackson Hole, the campaign hosted a first-of-its-kind symposium, from which it hopes to glean a new roadmap for energy development in the West. About 170 people—sportsmen, scientists, advocates, policy makers, etc.—attended the event and participated in a “troubleshooting” process regarding gas and oil drilling on public lands. Using participants’ input and the best science it can muster, the campaign hopes to present its recommendations to the next president and the next Congress.
Included in these recommendations will be the Sportsmen’s Bill of Rights, available at www.sportsmen4responsibleenergy.org . Already, the campaign has dozens of national and regional organizations and businesses endorsing the document. You might recognize a few—Scott Fly Rods, the Federation of Fly Fishers, The Orion Institute. The list goes on.
Individuals, too, can endorse the document and a list of common-sense recommendations aimed at accessing our domestic reserves without trashing our above-ground resources in the process.
Please join us and help change the way we drill for domestic energy and help protect the places we hunt and fish. Your children and grandchildren will thank you for it.