July 2009 marked the 50th anniversary of TU’s founding, on the banks of the Au Sable River near Grayling, Michigan. The 16 fishermen who gathered at the home of George Griffith were united by their love of trout fishing, and by their growing disgust with the state’s practice of stocking its waters with “cookie cutter trout”—catchable-sized hatchery fish. Convinced that Michigan’s trout streams could turn out a far superior fish if left to their own devices, the anglers formed a new organization: Trout, Unlimited (the comma was dropped a few years later).
From the beginning, TU was guided by the principle that if we “take care of the fish, then the fishing will take care of itself.” And that principle was grounded in science. “One of our most important objectives is to develop programs and recommendations based on the very best information and thinking available,” said TU’s first president, Dr. Casey E. Westell Jr. “In all matters of trout management, we want to know that we are substantially correct, both morally and biologically.”
In 1962-63, TU prepared its first policy statement on wild trout, and persuaded the Michigan Department of Natural Resources to curtail “put-and-take” trout stocking and start managing for wild trout and healthy habitat. On the heels of that success, anglers quickly founded TU chapters in Illinois, Wisconsin, New York, and Pennsylvania.
From its hundreds of local stream restoration projects, to helping lead the way to remove the Edwards Dam on the Kennebec River in Maine, to compelling Congress to strengthen the Clean Water Act, TU has a strong 50 year track record of conservation achievements. Perhaps TU’s greatest strength is that it works at multiple levels of society and government to achieve its mission. From the landowner on the stream bank, to the state fisheries agency, to the Halls of Congress, TU is working to achieve its vision.
HOW WE WORK
There’s one fundamental truth about rivers: what happens upstream will eventually flow downstream. Everything is interconnected, so we must work effectively not only on local streams, but also on entire rivers and river systems.
To succeed, we rely on our combination of grassroots capacity and professional expertise. A simple yet effective framework integrates our efforts: protect pristine habitat, usually in the headwaters; then reconnect it to areas we restore downstream. Sustain this work over time by building a broad coalition of people committed to coldwater conservation.
On any given river, you might find TU policy experts advocating for legislation to protect pristine lands, while staff scientists collaborate with volunteers on the ground to clean up streams and replace culverts that block fish passage. Partnership projects with local schools complement these efforts, introducing a new generation to TU’s work.
Everyone tackles a different piece of the puzzle, but the end result is miles and miles of interconnected habitat for fish, and healthier, more fishable rivers for all of us.
The mission of Schuylkill County Trout Unlimited is to further TU National goals of protecting, restoring, and conserving coldwater fisheries by involving its members and supporters in conservation, education, fund raising, and communication directed to coldwater fisheries in Schuylkill County and the people who may use and depend upon those fisheries
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