This letter first appeared in the 2018/2019 Trout Unlimited Progress Report

When we look around at the staff, the volunteers, the business owners and the tireless advocates who make Trout Unlimited what it is today, we see what follows when you mix a little work ethic with a strong dose of backbone.  

Short answer? You get things done. TU is the organization that gets it done for trout and trout anglers. 

Maybe that comes across as bragging. But consider the context in which we live: These days, our sense of time has warped a bit. We forget what happened this morning, let alone commitments made 10 years ago. At the same time, we are living in politically tense times. Often it seems we as a country cannot agree on the color of the sky, let alone how to protect our greatest resources. 

But within those challenges, TU has not only survived, it has thrived.  

We know and deeply believe that conservation is not political. In 2018, we protected more than a half a million acres of land, helping usher through the John D. Dingell, Jr. Conservation, Management and Recreation Act, one of the largest public lands protection acts in recent history. In doing so, we also honored the conservation legacy of one of our World War II heroes and his dedicated wife. 

We also know that a desire for clean water is not Democratic or Republican. And TU has the vision and power to not only protect our resources, but fix them when they are in need. This year we reconnected 418 miles and restored 508 miles of streams and rivers across the country. Then we went to bat to protect those investments, pushing decision makers to protect our headwaters by standing by the Clean Water Act. 

Because simply caring for a river itself is not enough, we increased our efforts to foster a connection to place. This past year, the Veteran Service Partnership hosted 4,000 veterans with 700 programs and added 10 new chapter programs. 

These are only the tip of the iceberg. 

523,127 acres protected

– 1,142 river miles protected

– 418 miles reconnected

– 508 miles restored

– 1,168 youth education programs

– 700 veterans events

When we sit down to write these reports, we do it with eyes wide open. We see the landscape for what it is, warts and all. And we tend to be pragmatic about these things.  

What we don’t expect is to be amazed at what happened right in front of us each year. Perhaps we become accustomed to the over-achieving nature of TU over time. But there is no denying the positive impact Trout Unlimited is having in community after community, all across this country. 

Among our 300,000 members and supporters and more than 220 staff, we have a generous depth of talent, not to mention an endless supply of optimism. 

We also have what many other conservation organizations do not: The grit and selflessness to go out, get our hands dirty, quite literally, and make our streams and rivers better. When others find it easier to phone it in, TU supporters and staff put in the sweat-equity to get the job done. Rain or shine, no matter how uphill the battle. 

In the pages of this annual report you will find the many other threads that tie us together as anglers. Love of place, dedication to our coldwater fisheries and a deeply engrained drive to pass on these gifts to the future.  

We hope it inspires you to pull out the work gloves and help us continue the long, yet gratifying march toward better coldwater fisheries. 


Chris Wood 

President and CEO of Trout Unlimited 

Bernard C. Bailey 

Chairman of the Trout Unlimited Board 

By Shauna Stephenson. Shauna Stephenson has been a writer, photographer, communicator and conservationist for nearly two decades, the past decade being spent at Trout Unlimited, working on projects…