“We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.” —Winston Churchill
At first blush, none of the three Vermillion brothers bear much resemblance to Winston Churchill. They’re taller, fitter and I have yet to see any of them wearing a Homburg hat or travelling with their own stock of vintage champagne. But when the legendary British prime minister spoke of generosity, he might have been speaking of these sons of the Treasure State. These guys give to support the things they believe in.
They give of their time. Time is a precious commodity at Sweetwater Travel. They manage 13 properties from Montana to Mongolia. If you want to fish for salmon in Alaska, they can make that happen at their Copper River Lodge or Royal Coachman Lodge. Want to fish for bonefish, with maybe an opportunity for some bluewater fishing as well? They’ve got you covered at Mangrove Cay Club in the Bahamas. How about fishing for taimen in Mongolia? They’ve been running their Mongolia Taimen Camps for 21 years and broken just about every world record for taimen on a fly rod. I could go on. But the point here is that they have a worldwide reach and not a lot of excess time on their hands. And yet they give. Dan has served as a TU board member and a Montana Fish and Game commissioner. Pat and Jeff have commitments of their own. And they all have families. But they still give.
They give of their treasure. A couple of years back, we were searching for a donated trip for a longstanding TU fundraising campaign. We thought we had a trip lined up, but at the last minute that one fell through. I reached out to the Vermillion brothers and they didn’t hesitate for a minute. They donated an all-inclusive trip that would be a once-in-a-lifetime experience for the winner. That trip broke all previous fundraising totals for the campaign. I’ll never forget circling back with them at the end of the campaign. I thanked Dan from the bottom of my heart. His understated response was straight out of Livingston, MT: “Glad we could help out, Walt. Give me a shout if we can do that again sometime.”
That’s why I wasn’t surprised when they were among the first to sign on in support of TU’s proposal to remove the lower four dams on the Snake River in eastern Washington to restore salmon and steelhead runs. When I checked in with Dan, here’s what he said: “The science is clear and has been clear for years. Snake River salmon and steelhead runs will not recover as long as there are four dams blocking their connection to the Pacific Ocean. We can’t recover these wild fish with hatcheries, fish cannons, fish barges or fish ladders. We’ve spent billions of dollars trying these ideas without success. We know that while the solution is both obvious and challenging, removing the Snake River dams is our best chance for restoring the famed salmon and steelhead runs of the Columbia basin. The Snake and its high-country tributaries represent 50 percent of all available cold-water habitat for West Coast salmon and steelhead in the lower 48 states. Sweetwater Travel is proud to stand with our partners at Trout Unlimited in support of removing these dams and restoring these fish’s connection with their home water in the Pacific Ocean.”
And we’re proud to stand with Dan, Jeff and Pat Vermillion at Sweetwater Travel. They’re the real deal.
Sweetwater Travel Company
Dan, Jeff & Pat Vermillion
Livingston, MT 59047