From the President

Faith, Hope and Love Sustains TU

Perhaps the most widely used biblical passage at weddings is 1 Corinthians 13. Even if you are not particularly religious, I bet you know it.

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud…” The short chapter concludes, “And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”

As we head into the holiday season, this verse reminds me of the work of Trout Unlimited.

The faith that we can take specific actions today to make the world a better place for our children propels us forward.

Hope drives the optimism of our efforts to protect, reconnect and restore river systems.

But it is our charity and love for one another that helps to sustain us through political turmoil, social unrest and tumult.


Consider the faith of people such as Brian Johnson over a 20-year effort to remove the Klamath dams. In 2000, the water was shut off for irrigators to protect an imperiled fish, causing great socio-economic disruption in rural communities. In 2001, all the water was sent to the farmers, and more than 30,000 salmon and steelhead died because of the low flows. In 2005, because of the loss of that earlier year-class, the commercial fishery was shut down in California for the first time in history.

TU’s Brian Johnson kept the faith and after 20 years of advocacy the Klamath dams are coming down.

This summer, 18 years later, the first of four Klamath dams was removed, and the next three will be removed in 2024. When they are gone, we will have re-opened 450 miles of wild salmon and steelhead spawning and rearing habitat that had been blocked for over a century. Our faith in our tribal partners, other conservation agencies, PacifiCorp and our state and federal partners enabled us to move mountains (of concrete).


For more than 15 years, hope drove our efforts in Alaska, as we worked to protect Bristol Bay and the Tongass National Forest. I will never forget sitting in the Alaska Sportsman’s Lodge in Bristol Bay and having one of my invited guests tell me, “You will never stop this mine. Copper is too important.”

TU continued to hold hope for protecting Bristol Bay from mining. That hope paid off. photo by Fly Out Media.

Hope is not a strategy, but it can drive one. When others in the conservation community chose to disavow working through the Trump administration to stop the proposed Pebble mine, we did not, and thanks to our efforts, it was the Trump administration that denied the key permit. The Biden administration then did the hard work of protecting the area from future industrial-scale mining.

Thanks to the support of so many of you and the leadership of Nelli Williams and her team, we did stop that boneheaded idea.

A few weeks later, after years of science-driven advocacy, we succeeded in convincing the Forest Service to apply the protections of the 2001 roadless rule to America’s largest national forest, the Tongass, and its nine million acres of pristine lands.

TU worked diligently to protect America’s largest and fishiest forest: the Tongass. Photo by Bryan Gregson

We never gave up on Alaska and its people, communities and fisheries, and that hope helped to fuel two of the most significant conservation wins of the past few decades of American conservation.


But it is charity and love that define TU. At West Point, General Douglas MacArthur spoke of the “long grey line” as having “never failed us”. TU’s long blue-and-green line has never failed us, either. I would wager nary another conservation group could boast over 1,100 miles of rivers reconnected and restored in a single year or having each of 400 chapters donate 1,700 hours to their communities. Our commitment to the communities where we live, love and fish is what sets TU apart.

Grown men cried at the Massanutten Virginia Chapter’s Beaver Creek Invitational this spring, where volunteer leaders such as Richard Foust and Jerry Black took veterans out on the water for a day of camaraderie, fun and to enjoy the healing power of flowing water.

I picked up trash with TU staffer Jeff Kresch’s teenaged son and a bunch of volunteers. We worked along the North River in West Virginia and marveled at the fact the group picked up 86 contractor bags of trash, and Jeff’s son never once looked at his iPhone (I did. No signal!).

Planting trees at a TU and Tractor Supply Company (TSC) event in Tennessee organized by TU’s Jeff Yates, senior director for engagement, I was blown away by the passion and energy of the young men and women at the event, and the fact that TSC is using TU to help offset its carbon footprint through multiple tree plantings.

Four young people put tree into a hole they dug
TU and the Tractor Supply team worked with the Tennessee Environmental Council to remove invasive species and plant 50 trees on their corporate grounds.

Day in and day out, TU volunteers and staff demonstrate that faith, hope and love can change the world. But the greatest of all these is the love that you dedicate through your commitment, whether that manifests itself through time, talent or financial support for TU.

Thanks for another great year. Let’s make the next even better.