Local TU Chapter makes positive impacts

There aren’t many places that can match the Wood River Valley for fishing, especially if you like to do so with a fly rod.

We are lucky to be nestled in the heart of some of the best trout fishing on God’s green and watery earth and thanks to the efforts of the local chapter of Trout Unlimited (TU), there is reason to be hopeful that fishing will stay great here for years to come.

“We seek to preserve the most valuable resource we have in this valley—the Big Wood River,” said Alan Richardson, board president for the Hemingway Chapter of TU.

TU was founded in 1959 to conserve, protect and restore North America’s cold-water fisheries and their watersheds. While the national, non-profit organization oversees important policy battles and supports hundreds of restoration projects (like the recent work done at Rock Creek, just west of Hailey), it’s really the efforts of the volunteer, regional chapters that make the most notable impacts.

“It’s about the river.  Our valley is gifted with a living ecosystem that drives our quality of life and standard of living.  Everyone in the valley wants the Big Wood River to be healthy,” said Hemingway Chapter board member Nick Miller. “Our chapter’s job is to educate and to lead the residents and policy makers to science-based decisions and projects that protect, improve and provide access to the river for all of us.”

The Hemingway Chapter was created decades ago, but had faded away like a mid-winter midge hatch. It as revived by impassioned local volunteers in 2004 and takes four paths to achieve it goals.

It conserves trout by literally saving fish one at a time. Each fall, the group leads efforts to rescue trout stranded in irrigation canals. Last year, another 8,000 native fish were saved and relocated. It educates local students and the public. Over the last decade, the Hemingway Chapter has introduced fly fishing to over 1,000 local students and offers free, monthly talks about all things fishing. It also protects public access by clearing trails and restores and repairs local waters like their recently completed work on five miles of Elkhorn Creek—an important tributary of the Big Wood.

The Hemingway Chapter has done lots of great work, but there is still much to be done. That’s why new members of all ages are always welcome. The only qualification needed is a passion to make a difference.

“We live in paradise,” Richardson said. “We need to take care of it.”

For more information, go to HemingwayTU.org or check out their free talks on the first Thursday nights of each month at Whiskey Jacques. The chapter is also hosting the 2020 International Fly Fishing Film Festival this Friday night, January 24th at the Argyros Theatre. Doors open at 6:30 and proceeds go to support fish rescues, river restoration projects, public access monitoring and student and veteran programs in the Wood River Valley.

By Mike McKenna

This story originally appeared in the Chamber Corner for the Wood River Weekly.

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