Monday, October 1, 2012

For A Good Cause

The Bum recently volunteered at the Bitterroot Trout Unlimited Chapter's annual banquet in Hamilton.  The Banquet is the big yearly fundraiser for our local TU and raises thousands of dollars annually which funds all sorts of programs and restoration efforts throughout the watershed.

Good food and friends, made for a great evening.

Montana Trout Unlimited, a great organization.
Afterward I got to thinking about how much we fly fishermen and outdoorsmen in general here in Montana take for granted.  Here's a short list I compiled, feel free to ad your own in the comments section.

               1.  Amazing stream access laws that are to my knowledge the best in the ENTIRE COUNTRY, where we are free to float and wade nearly every flowing water, up to and including the high water mark.  Incredible!   
               2.  Some of the best trout streams on planet earth.
               3.  The longest un-dammed river in the U.S.  (Yellowstone River, about 700 miles)
               4.  The largest wilderness complex in the lower 48 states.
               5.  The first state in the union to stop stocking it's rivers with hatchery trout.  Every trout stream in Montana contains only wild fish.
               6.  Lots of open space, intact ecosystems and clean water.
               7.  Dozens of conservation organizations, and the hundreds of people behind them who fight to protect water, fish, and wildlife everyday.

Royal Humpies tied by a future fly fishing guru.  This was made possible by the many hours volunteered by members of the Bitterroot TU Chapter to teach kids how to tie flies.

It's easy to lose sight of the battles that have been fought, and continue to be fought in order to protect the fish and rivers we love.  It's easy to take things for granted.  It takes something such as the Pebble Mine debacle or the current Utah stream access fight to remind me that our valuable resources will never be completely safe.  Montanans, remember when they wanted a cyanide heap-leach gold mine to be located at the headwaters of the Blackfoot not to many years ago?  Remember the so called "ditch bill" last legislative session?  Remember, the reason we have such great hunting and fishing is because many good people are out there fighting for what we hold dear, are you?

More Valuable than Gold.
I'll get off my soapbox now.  I just want to encourage everyone, if you are not already involved with your regional and local conservation organizations.  Consider giving up a few weekends a year to re-vegetate a local stream, or fence off a sensitive riparian area.  Donate a few bucks if you can, stay informed, vote.

"Water has no taste, no color, no odor; it cannot be defined, art relished while ever mysterious. Not necessary to life, but rather life itself. It fills us with a gratification that exceeds the delight of the senses."
                                       - ANTOINE DE SAINT-EXUPERY (1900-1944), Wind, Sand, and Stars, 1939
Below are some links to local (Western Montana), conservation organization websites, as well as a few larger ones (such as TU, and Save Bristol Bay).   I am undoubtedly forgetting many great organizations.  The thing is to just get involved!
- Clarkfork Coalition
- Five Valleys Land Trust
- Greater Yellowstone Coalition
- Montana Audubon
- Montana Trout Unlimited
- Northern Plains Resource Council
- Trout Unlimited
- Fly Fishers of the Bitterroot
- Bitterroot Water Forum
- Save Bristol Bay

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