A Native Odyssey: A conservation road trip of a lifetime

“The beauty and charm of the wilderness are his for the asking, for the edges of the wilderness lie close beside the beaten roads of the present travel.”

—Theodore Roosevelt

President Theodore Roosevelt was a visionary, having set aside 230 million acres during his presidency for the American public to enjoy. In doing so, he was responsible for founding the U.S. Forest Service, and laying the ground work for the Department of the Interior and the National Park Service.

Fast forward a little more than a century. The U.S. government now manages 640 million acres of public land in trust for all Americans, a vast swath of shared real estate representing 28 percent of the American land mass. This large plot of public land in large part supports the $887 billion dollar outdoor recreation economy.

Today, our public lands are under threat, with President Trump ordering the review of national monuments, and congress working in the shadows to transfer federal land to states governments that cannot afford to manage it. The outcome, should this become a reality? A fire sale of your land to the highest bidder.

Starting June 2, five students (Brett Winchel, Austin Burroughs, Heather Harkavy, Jacob Lacy and Matt Corckett) from the TU Costa 5 Rivers Outreach Program will embark on a once-in-a-lifetime journey in pursuit of 16 native trout species, all on their public land. With support from the U.S. Forest Service, Costa Sunglasses, Simms Fishing Products, Fishpond and Post Fly Box, these students will tell the stories of our native trout, the places they live, and the local economies they fuel.

These students will be chiming in on Trout Unlimited’s and Trout Unlimited Costa 5 Rivers’ social media accounts to document the adventure. They will fish and explore our public lands around the country, unearthing challenges facing our native trout species. In addition to pursuing each species on fly, they will be interviewing local stakeholders, including ranchers, TU Volunteers, TU and U.S. Forest Service staff. They hope to reveal a diverse set of perspectives on what public lands, native species, and clean water means to each region the students visit.

This week we will be introducing this year’s Odyssey participants. Each of these students comes from a unique background, having shaped their conservation viewpoints from their respective fisheries from around the country. Stay tuned to the blog to meet the participants.

To stay up to date with the Odyssey, follow @Troutunlimited, @TUCosta5rivers, @USForestservice, @simmsfishing @Fishpondusa to discover the story of our native trout, public lands, and what you can do at home to keep your lands in public hands.

For additional opportunities to get involved with protecting public lands, please visit

By Chris Hunt.