TU in Action: Restoring Oregon redbands; ranch access in Wyoming; exceptional water in PA, and more

TU is part of the newly launched Our Pocono Waters campaign in Pennsylvania. Photo courtesy of PA Environmental Digest.

The term “partnerships” might sound kind of boring when thinking about restoring cold-water fisheries, but, truth be told, without them, precious little would get done. And there’s nobody better at fostering partnerships—and accomplishing good restoration work—than Trout Unlimited.

In Oregon this summer, TU has partnered with the Ochoco National Forest to restore Deep Creek, a native redband trout stream that, via the Crooked River, eventually flows into the storied Deschutes River. Generations of ranching and logging have left Deep Creek “less functional” than it should be, and the U.S. Forest Service identified it as a priority for improvement. As noted, Deep Creek is a redband stronghold in a region where a warming climate is already impacting trout and salmon.

“In my mind, I see them as the fish of the future,” said Darek Staab, TU’s Upper Deschutes project manager. “They’re going to have the genes and the adaptability, and the survival skills to be able to help as we move into more challenging times with the climate.”

So, not only has the creek been largely neglected and negatively impacted by other uses, it has the potential to nurture native fish well into the future. By partnering with the Forest Service and the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, TU is keeping an eye on the future of trout in their native ranges. And the future of trout fishing, too.

Here’s what else is happening in the TU universe this week:

  • Speaking of partnerships, the Bitterroot Chapter of TU in Montana honored the city of Hamilton, Mont., for its contributions in making the Bitterroot River one of the best destination fisheries in the state.
  • TU’s Toner Mitchell is chiming in on the need for anglers to give trout a break during the dog days of summer, reminding anglers that trout are sluggish when water temperatures warm, and that tangling with them when water temperatures climb into the high 60s can be fatal to the fish.
  • There’s a battle brewing over a Wyoming ranch seized by a convicted drug smuggler, and what to do with the property. Some wanted to see the ranch immediately sold so it contributes to the Park County tax base. Others, including members of TU and Pheasants Forever, want to see the ranch remain in public hands for its fishing and hunting opportunities. It’ll be interesting to see how this shakes out.
  • Check out how summer interns with the Mid-Columbia Fisheries Enhancement group spend their summers helping with some TU projects.
  • TU volunteers in Pennsylvania helped lauch Our Pocono Waters campaign, which is designed to protect streams designated as having “exceptional value” in the state.
  • TU is one of several conservation groups in California to have thrown its support behind a proposed trail that would follow a defunct railroad grade from the Bay Area all the way north to Humboldt Bay, and follow the the storied wine country and through the 50-mile-long Eel River Canyon.

TU, its volunteers and staff are in the news every single day. If your chapter or council is working on good restoration projects, raising money for fisheries or finding ways to involve the community in conservation work, drop me a line. I’d love to promote it.

— Chris Hunt

By Chris Hunt.