The fire that heats us is only as good as the coals we foster…

IMG_5321So what does it mean, this trout bus thing? I have considered this, taken advice, consulted with a variety of professions – and decided on this: I am an advocate. To be such means more than pretty pictures and stories. It means keeping the coals of sustainability lit for as long as I can. To keep progressing down this road and enlisting as much support as possible until everyone who loves cold clean water stands up for it however they can. 

Sustainability in conservation are the coals of the fire that keep burning for years to come. Stoking it as often as needed and ensuring that it breathes life into everyone who comes near it. It means understanding that time is our ally. It means that things don’t come easy. It means that by our effort to breath the life into each effort we make it keeps us all warm for generations to come.

Recently I decided to come up with a simple description of what this project means. The only thing that came to  mind was “Independent Fisheries Advocate”. I think this can apply to each one of us – we a coal in the fire needed to ensure the future of our fisheries and wild places.

IMG_5101_2I visited a small stream here in Oregon that is just now being stoked by an individual. The stream is a small, seemingly inconsequential – a tributary of a larger system that some have overlooked as to its importance. It so happens this is a beautiful cutthroat water and also happens to hold the potential future of wild winter steelhead diversity within its narrows.

Brett Tallman went to college at the local university to these waters. He has spent the past 10 years wandering the banks of this stream and others in the area. Taking a keen insight into the fishery at different times of year, he noticed that there were in fact winter steelhead spawning here. Investigating further he has found that this system isn’t really on the radar for ODFW or other conservation organizations.

He has gathered video footage of wild steelhead spawning in this stream, and lead the local watershed council to the same location where they have also gathered evidence of spawning winter steelhead. This area is impacted through forestry management – but overall appears in great health from what I have viewed and what observations Brett has made. So what’s a person to do when there is no focus on protecting this area for wild steelhead?

“If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change. As a man changes his own nature, so does the attitude of the world change towards him. … We need not wait to see what others do.” – Gandhi

IMG_5166_2This is the real quote that often gets paraphrased down to “Be the change you wish to see in the world”. This doesn’t change the sentiment in my opinion and ultimately fits better on a bumper sticker I suppose. That sentiment is what this project is all about. Any of us can create positive change by first taking the steps as individuals to educate and learn more about our homewaters.

As you continue reading my posts – think about how you can do something to make it a better place for future generations. Brett’s approach is to take it upon himself to learn more, document the area as best he can, and start speaking with the local landowners to get access to these areas. Some further suggestions I have made were to get in touch with local leaders from Trout Unlimited and enlist their support.

I have learned that this stream is actually the border between two chapters of TU – the Bluebacks and the Tualatin Chapter. As well, national staff for the Wild Steelheaders United project have been contacted to see if there is an opportunity to help protect this wild steelhead spawning area. It is my hope that we can all help each other in this and other instances to protect these special places. It is when we all work together as multiple coals – our fire burns that much brighter.

IMG_5165_2So what this means is that this project is working – it is reaching individuals and enlisting their support to keep the fire burning in each of us to help protect the resources we long for each and every day. To me this means what I am doing means more than perhaps I originally expected.

I have met with a lot of people so far – something that keeps popping up is a need for a simple one-sheet of what this project is all about. Your emails, notes, phone calls, and comments of support for this project are greatly appreciated. I hope to continue creating these opportunities in the future. Doing this type of work means as much to the groups I support as the places that benefit from our work.

I will continue working on this project and as some of you have said, “the money to continue doing it will come”. If it doesn’t come – it wont’ matter. If it does come I will use it to continue this project. Either way – the coals are stoked and so am I. The beautiful places and fish that live there continue to call me, and your voices beckon me to continue – so I shall.