There’s a reason organizations fall down and get rebuilt – it’s based on need. The real truth is that there is a built-in obsolescence for most of them, and some have a greater and multi-generational impact because their mission is clear and purpose is known.
In 2007-2008 I decided to get involved with efforts that were guided in conservation to offer my time as a volunteer. Prior to that, my experience as an angler had always been an outside looking in. Going back to when my grandfather introduced me to BASS and Trout Unlimited as the two groups he favored – I was taught about their focus on conservation and how important that would be for the future of my enjoyment as an angler.
With the Deschutes River being my new home, and deciding this is where I would volunteer my time, I took on a role with the local Chapter of Trout Unlimited. That was after some “convincing” by Trout Unlimited National Staff members Bryan Moore, Beverly Smith, and Alan Moore. They asked if I could help “re-vitalize” the local Chapter – which I later came to learn was nearly as old as the National Organization. In doing my due diligence, I discovered that Trout Unlimited had a Chapter here since the 1970s and that their periodic magazine “Trout” was originally published out of the Sisters area.
So I help get the Chapter going, get the opportunity to start the Bend Casting Club for them, get blind-sided and asked to leave, start working with the Oregon Council of Trout Unlimited, start the TroutBus, and start to travel the West spreading the conservation word in hopes of inspiring future generations of anglers. There’s the long and short of it – if you want more details, read previous blog posts.
From the very first year of joining Trout Unlimited and operating as the Secretary and Communications Chair for the Chapter, I started getting calls and emails about the de-watering and stranding of fish on the Lava Island side channel. Each year I would go out there and see thousands of fish dead and be too late to offer any help. Each year I would watch the calendar and get a gut wrenching feeling.
Flash to 2013 and Kim Brannock. Her efforts, her connectivity to the outdoors industry, and her force of will brought this issue to the mainstream media and an onslaught of phone calls and emails from all over the U.S. and around the globe came flooding in to find out why this was happening. Working with Kim, Deschutes Trout Unlimited, Bend Casting Club, Central Oregon Flyfishers, Deschutes River Conservancy, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, US Fish and Wildlife, US Forest Service, Deschutes Basin Board of Control, and Sunriver Anglers – we cobble together the gear and volunteers to get the bucket brigade rolling.
So here we are 4 years later, and we are still bucketing fish out of the river.
But don’t take that the wrong way!!
There is light at the end of this tunnel!!
For the first year since 2007 I am seeing a side channel with water in it this time of year. That has a lot to do with good water years for the past 2, but the reality is that there is more flow coming out now during this time of year than the vast majority of years since Wickiup was installed. An agreement of a minimum flow of 100cfs was reached and that’s a helluva lot better than some years I have seen as low as 22cfs.
In my opinion, for this channel to remain charged and fish to have adequate in flow, all we need is another 50-100cfs. Does that solve all the problems right now? NO. Does it help us rebuild the foundation of the system for the future and put us further down the path to 300-600cfs we really need? YES.
Let’s take this win!!
This life of conservation is a labor of love and takes a lifetime to really see the results. I imagine this is a lot like raising children. As parents you guide, teach, learn, laugh, cry, and then at the end of your life – think back and see the impact you have made on their lives and the world you’re leaving. So I’m taking this years effort as a win to feel proud of and logging in the memory banks as such.
Are we at the end of the story for the Deschutes and salvaging fish? Nope! Will we need to be ready to do it again next year? Yep!! But seeing high school students like Forrest and his friends carrying buckets, seeing Kim’s daughter out there helping out, and all the rest of my friends participating however they can – I can’t help but feel a happy sense of hope.
Support whoever you can however you can, and here’s a list of groups I actively support or have in the past for different reasons and some pretty pictures:
- Trout Unlimited
- Oregon Council of Trout Unlimited
- Deschutes Chapter of Trout Unlimited
- Deschutes River Conservancy
- Deschutes Land Trust
- Central Oregon Flyfishers
- Sunriver Anglers
- Coalition for the Deschutes
- Yakima River Headwaters Chapter of Trout Unlimited
- Trout Unlimited California
- Backcountry Hunters and Anglers
- Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership