Duke Welter/ Trout Unlimited Driftless Area Restoration Effort outreach coordinator
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Jeff Hastings/ Trout Unlimited Driftless Area Restoration Effort project manager
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(Oct. 18, 2016) HAYWARD, WIS. Trout Unlimiteds Driftless Area Restoration Effort has been selected for the Fresh Water Fishing Hall of Fame for the programs conservation work in the unique area that spans parts of Minnesota, Iowa, Illinois and Wisconsin.
Over its 12 years the project has made remarkable contributions to conserving and restoring coldwater resources in the scenic unglaciated area of the Upper Mississippi Basin.
More than 200 projects have been completed with program partners, over $40 million raised, and almost 450 miles of public access to streams has been added in southwestern and western Wisconsin, southeastern Minnesota and northeastern Iowa. More than 500 volunteers have been trained in project development and execution.
The scope of TUs work in the Driftless Area has been remarkable, said Chris Wood, TUs president and CEO. It is truly rewarding to see those efforts honored with this selection.
Historic land use left most of the areas 600 coldwater watersheds degraded, to the point that its spring creeks were written off by resource agencies in the 1950s. But restoration techniques developed in recent decades have controlled erosion, improved fish habitat and water quality, and showed the way for the more widespread work developed by the the Driftless Area Restoration Effort across the region.
TU volunteers and staff began work in 2004 to develop what has become the national organizations largest restoration initiative. They brought together agencies, universities, local conservation groups and land trusts in a region-wide partnership, trained volunteers how to carry out high-quality local projects, and found larger pots of funding to enable more work. Each project completed under the initiative has required public fishing access, in exchange for which the projects are done at no cost to landowners.
This effort has helped a wide variety of partners join in restoration work across the Driftless Area, helping to find funds, train volunteers in organizing projects, build strong partnerships, encourage scientific research and publicize the impacts, said TUs Duke Welter, outreach coordinator for the program. Volunteers, agency partners and TU staff have made this work.
TUDARE, as the program is often referred to, has been nationally recognized as a showcase for wild trout restoration, receiving the Wild Trout Stewardship Award at the 2014 Wild Trout Symposium, the premier meeting of its type in the nation.
Im not surprised at the success of the project, said TUs Jeff Hastings, the projects manager. Our primary role has been to try to fill in the gaps of technical assistance, funding and education and we are so fortunate to be able to work with such a great group of partners to accelerate stream restoration and upland conservation in the Driftless region.
TU Vice President for Government Affairs Steve Moyer nominated the initiative for the Hall of Fame.
Scientists tell us that we must scale up and do landscape-scale fish habitat conservation work if we are to be successful, Moyer said. From our humble beginnings on the Kickapoo River, TU DARE has scaled up to be one of the best landscape scale fish habitat partnerships in the entire nation.
Moyer, himself a Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame member, praised the team at the heart of the work.
I salute the outstanding efforts of Jeff Hastings, Duke Welter, Minnesota TU Executive Director John Lenczewski, and all of the members of TUs state councils in Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa and Illinois, Moyer continued. Their efforts are truly epic and very worthy of being inducted into the National Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame.
John and Mary Stettler exemplify the type of landowners who have helped spur the programs vast successes. The effort helped the Stettlers restore nearly a mile of stream habitat on their farm in Buffalo County, Wisc.
My wife and I had always wanted to do a project on our farm along Eagle Valley Creek, but we didnt have the resources, John Stettler said. After we heard through our nearby TU chapter about DAREs efforts to build projects in Buffalo County, we worked to put this together with TU DARE, our local Fountain City Rod & Gun Club and other conservation clubs, our NRCS office, and others.
DARE helped train us and helped raise money for the project, and we donated a fishing easement to ensure our grandchildren will be able to fish here. TU and DARE helped us pull it all together, and we now have a healthy fishery right here in our pasture. It was a good cooperative effort and benefited the stream, our land and the community too.
Hall of Fame Executive Director Emmett A. Brown Jr., who announced the honor on Saturday, Oct. 15, also praised TU.
This honor recognizes the Driftless Area Restoration Effort for its contribution, dedication and service to the fresh water sportfishing industry, Brown said. With this, their pioneering spirit will always be remembered.
The induction ceremony will occur in 2017, on a date still to be decided.
TUwelterhastings: Duke Welter (left) and Jeff Hastings of Trout Unlimiteds Driftless Area Restoration Effort display a plaque that memorializes the programs selection for the Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame. A formal induction ceremony will be held in 2017.
TUdriftlessprogra: TUs Driftless Area Resoration Effort has included more than 200 restoration projects, such as this one on Trout Run in Southeast Minnesota, and has led to the opening of nearly 450 miles of public fishing access to streams in the region in the Upper Mississippi Basin.
Additional high-resolution images are available upon request.
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