On behalf of Trout Unlimited’s 300,000 members and supporters, 220 professional staff, and our trustees and grassroots leaders, we want to share with you the 2017 Trout Unlimited annual report. We realize that annual reports are essentially ritualized bragging, and should be generally read as such. Please consider these numbers, however, before you dismiss this one:
• 1,164 miles of streams protected.
• 737 miles of streams reconnected.
• 361 miles of streams restored.
That is what Trout Unlimited accomplished on-the-ground in 2017. Aldo Leopold, who we like to think was the intellectual predicate for that dozen or so people who first met on the banks of the Au Sable 59 years ago and founded Trout Unlimited, once said: “The only thing that matters is progress on the landscape of the back 40.” It is difficult to think of an organization that accomplishes more on that landscape than Trout Unlimited.
What do these big numbers mean for the places we live and love?
In the Driftless Area—the unglaciated portion of Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa and Illinois—we have accomplished more than 100 miles of restoration in the past 10 years, including 20 this past year. Pre-restoration, we find about 200-300 trout per mile in a Driftless stream. One year after restoration, those numbers increase to 2,000-3,000 fish per mile.
In Pennsylvania’s Kettle Creek—a stream decimated by the scourge of acid mine drainage—after more than 15 years of hard and patient restoration work, we have recovered populations of wild and naturally reproducing brook trout, which is a first for an Appalachian acid-mine damaged stream. Similarly, in Kerber Creek in southwestern Colorado, the work of Trout Unlimited and our partners has led to the first wild, naturally reproducing trout populations in an area lost to the impacts of hard rock mining over 100 years ago. We could tell you story after story about once-dead, now-recovered landscapes because of Trout Unlimited.
We have a national tendency toward forgetfulness in this country. We see it reflected in how we treat the elderly and those who served our nation’s flag. Relative to conservation, that lends itself to an “out-of-sightout-of-mind” perspective. How else to explain tolerance for abandoned mines, dry western rivers, disregard for public lands, and loss of protection of headwater streams under the Clean Water Act and in places such as Bristol Bay, Alaska?
Trout Unlimited never forgets. Instead, in thousands of communities across our great country, our members and staff work quietly and patiently to bring people together to apply common sense to common problems for the common good. We literally build community in a fractured world. And in so doing, we make your fishing better.
Consider the fact that our 400 chapters and councils this past year donated over 730,000 hours of service to the places they live and love. 730,000 hours. That represents a passel of volunteers who educated state and federal legislators about clean water. That represents tens of thousands of kids who learned about the wonder of nature. That represents thousands of veterans whose lives have been made better through our Veteran’s Service Partnership because of time on the water and fly-tying. Most important is that those veterans—and all of us who fight to protect the places we live, love, and fish—are welcomed into the hundreds of communities built by Trout Unlimited volunteers across the country.
That is the secret sauce of Trout Unlimited. No one, no one does a better job of protecting, reconnecting, and restoring the places you love to fish—and by so doing to make these areas more resilient to a changing climate—but our work to rebuild the communities that make America great truly distinguishes us. We hope you enjoy the report, and that it motivates you to give back to the resources that give us all so much joy.
All our best,
Chris Wood, President and Chief Executive Officer
James Asselstine, Chairman
TU’s 2017 annual report can be read in its entirety here.