Greetings TU members,
In the beginning…
As most of you know, the chapter was in hiatus for about six months up until April of this year when an organizational meeting produced a new slate of officers – Jack Wheeler, Secretary; Todd Mullen, Treasurer; Geoff Shipley, Vice President; and Lou Wentz; President.
To give you some background, I moved to Oregon last fall from Pennsylvania where I was a TU member for about 20 years (Perkiomen Valley TU #332). Our local chapter was very robust and over time initiated many stream restoration projects that improved riparian buffers, mostly along dairy farms. Most would argue that the improvements in that small watershed were transformational. As a result of these efforts, the chapter received several awards within the state council including Chapter of the Year, Best Website, and Member Conservationist of the Year. In a state with 56 chapters and 12,000 members, these were distinguished awards, none of which we sought but were bestowed due to the hard work and dedication of the many TU volunteers. In that period, I held several officer and committee chair positions including president, vice president, conservation coordinator, and volunteer coordinator. But enough about me, let’s talk about our chapter and you.
Our chapter in its previous incarnation as McKenzie-Upper Willamette TU has had a solid history and will have a productive and influential future with respect to healthy rivers for coldwater species. It is well positioned next to two great Oregon trout rivers and is well known and respected within ODFW and the neighboring watershed councils. Its participation in trout population and migration studies has made a considerable contribution to wild trout knowledge with respect to quantities and movement within the McKenzie watershed.
Birthing (A chapter reborn)
After three meetings with the current board of directors, the chapter has established a solid organizational foundation that includes some exciting news. The board produced its by-laws by our second meeting which included a name change to reflect better brand identity at the same time recognizing our unique coldwater species heritage.
The Redsides Chapter of Trout Unlimited (#678) is born. The chapter’s name was officially accepted by TU National after submission of the by-laws last month. We are excited by this change for it portends a future with the potential for significant good work by this chapter. For a complete copy of the by-laws, Click here.
Guiding (Chapter stewardship and direction)
By our third meeting this year, the chapter adopted a strategic plan that maps its future direction. To give a brief overview, the plan makes several assumptions. First is that because of the way Trout Unlimited is structured in Oregon, our service territory is much larger than the two watersheds identified by our previous name. It extends from about Junction City south, almost to the California border and from the Cascades to the coast. We do not have enough members to be able to influence stewardship on all the waters contained in that geography, from the standpoint of restoration techniques such as riparian plantings, culvert removal or re-design, or other ‘on the ground’ projects that Trout Unlimited is well known for on a national scale. That is not to say we won’t have signature projects, because we will, and that is very clearly identified as a goal within the strategic plan.
The board has decided that in order to produce transformational change within this large service area we need to do two things. One is to identify and create strategic partners, ones that would have greater influence to improve the coldwater resource through legal and advocacy measures. These might include Oregon Wild and Waterwatch of Oregon, entities that have the legal and policy expertise to affect riparian buffer regulations and water flows including dam relicensing. Let’s face it, logging in riparian corridors and the presence of dams are the two major limiting factors with respect to steelhead and salmon recovery and one Trout Unlimited chapter’s efforts might hardly move the needle in terms of these issues. However, organizations with lobbyists and legal staff can be powerful partners.
Closer to home, these partnerships would include the local watershed councils (McKenzie, Middle Fork Willamette, Coast Fork, Long Tom), McKenzie River Trust, McKenzie Flyfishers, US Forest Service, ODFW and others. The watershed councils do a fair amount riparian buffer restoration and watershed education, while the others offer opportunities with some combination of restoration, citizen science, or local policy advocacy. Supporting these partnerships can be accomplished in three ways: direct monetary contribution, donations of volunteer time, and advocacy support in terms of letter writing and public hearings. For a complete view of our strategic plan, Click here.
Supporting (Every member’s relationship to the chapter)
Every Trout Unlimited chapter has a volunteer pyramid. Not everyone has the time or inclination to serve in leadership positions as on the board of directors, but the most successful chapters have significant contributions from all levels of the volunteer pyramid. This includes members from distant locales where attending meetings or volunteering for stream projects is not normally feasible. Below are the kinds of things that you as a member of Redsides Chapter #678 can do to contribute to the chapter’s well-being and success:
- Keep abreast of the chapter’s development by reading the e-mails and visiting the chapter website (http://theredsides.org/) often. Offer feedback on chapter direction and activities
- Attend chapter board meetings, membership programs and special events. Our board meetings are open to all members and as our programs, which immediately follow the board meetings. Our new location, starting August 11th will be the lower level of the Rogue Ales Public House at 844 Olive Street in Eugene. Board meetings at 6PM, member programs at 7 PM.
- Volunteer for chapter projects. Even if it is once a year, your help will be welcome and greatly appreciated.
- Donate. Your local chapter must finance itself. We have worked hard in the first three months to reduce chapter expenses (moved meetings to a free location, moved checking account to free checking) so that all monies collected can be put directly in to chapter activities. A financial development plan will be discussed next meeting and will likely contain Fall and Spring fundraisers. The Fall fundraiser will aim to build the chapter by offering high quality speakers (fees usually involved) at membership programs. If all you can do is purchase one $5.00 raffle ticket a year, you will be doing a great service to the chapter.
- Fish. That’s right; fishing is actually an important piece to chapter relevance, because as a TU member, fishing means that the eyes and ears of the chapter will be focused on the various watersheds our territory covers. We cannot react to environmental insults if we don’t know about them. Contact the chapter with your concerns, but if you spot something illegal, report it to authorities first.
I’ve given you an overview of the chapter and your relationship to it. Please do not hesitate to give your feedback. The board will be reluctant to move forward with our strategic plan unless we know you are aware of and approve our actions going forward. You are welcome to contact me to share your thoughts.
The Redsides TU Chapter #678