Manager, Media Relations
11/26/2003 -- Madison, Wis. -- The River Alliance of Wisconsin named Trout Unlimited (TU) member John “Duke” Welter its Decade River Champion Nov. 15 for his tireless work in the best interest of Wisconsin’s rivers.
The River Alliance annually recognizes elected officials, businesses and individuals for their contributions to marine stewardship, but “the Decade River Champion award is a really big deal because it is not just for one year’s work, but 10, which shows an incredible level of commitment,” according to Denny Caneff, the alliance’s director. “Duke Welter is a river champion of the highest order,” said Lisa Goodman, who assists local and watershed groups for the alliance. “He has worked at every possible level … and his leadership has been instrumental.”
“To receive an award like this from such an effective group, I’m doubly honored,” Welter, of Eau Claire, said. “They’re really a great ally with unique know-how.”
The alliance tapped Welter for the award because of his volunteer efforts, which have included hauling rock on local stream improvement projects and lobbying legislators on important policy issues. Statewide, he has been active in the mining moratorium, the successful fight to keep a Perrier bottling facility away from the Mecan River, wetlands protection, stream restoration, groundwater regulation, and Department of Natural Resources independence and Public Intervenor restoration. In addition, Welter has been instrumental in the restoration of Gilbert Creek in Dunn County, engaging the support of a local rod and gun club, and coordinating and attending work nights.
“Gilbert Creek has the potential to develop into a significant public resource … and it would not … without Duke Welter,” according to the River Alliance Web site.
Welter’s involvement with TU spans the chapter, state and national levels. He served as Ojibleau Chapter president for several years, leading to the chapter's receipt of the WEAU Sportsman of the Year award, the 1998 WIDNR Partnership Award and the Wisconsin State Council of TU Silver Trout Award. Welter also continues to represent Wisconsin on national TU committees.
“Duke Welter epitomizes volunteer leadership excellence,” said Russ Schnitzer, TU Director of National Training Programs. “In my three years with Trout Unlimited, I’ve been fortunate to witness firsthand Duke’s approach to issues, projects and his fellow anglers. He is a source of continual inspiration and sets the standard for effectiveness. Trout Unlimited has been fortunate to have a leader like Duke as the ambassador of coldwater conservation for so many in the Midwest and beyond.”
Mission: Trout Unlimited is North America’s leading coldwater fisheries conservation organization, dedicated to the conservation, protection and restoration of trout and salmon fisheries and their watersheds. The organization has more than 130,000 members in 450 chapters in North America.