My previous post regarding Trout Unlimited has sparked a level of discussion that goes beyond what I expected. The response from both sides has been passionate and articulate, and I feel obligated to address that response. In this follow-up piece, I want to accomplish a few things. First, I want to recognize some of the shortcomings that have been pointed out. I genuinely appreciate all of the feedback we have received, so thank you to everyone who took the time to get involved. Next, I want to address the response I have received from TU itself. I spent about half an hour on the phone with Chris Wood, the President and CEO of TU, this morning and was left thoroughly encouraged. Finally, I want to talk about a path forward and the role that this blog will play in that process.
Perhaps the most significant criticism was directed toward my lack of attention to the good work done by TU chapters throughout the country. Clearly, that was a mistake on my part, and I apologize to everyone who was made to feel as though this work was not appropriately recognized. In order to paint a more thorough picture of the topic, I should have spent more time in this arena. To those of you who responded with information on the projects being undertaken by your chapters, thank you for the work you are doing. Your efforts should be applauded rather than ignored, and I intend to use this platform for that purpose going forward.
Additionally, I recognize that I should have been explicitly clear that the piece was not directed at any individual chapter. While my experiences are within the framework of two chapters, this article was born out of discussions with members in other chapters throughout the country. Clearly these experiences are not reflective of every chapter, and that variation is part of what makes the organization what it is.
Lastly, I think my decision to work outside of the TU framework came across as apathy, and this couldn’t be farther from the truth. While I have no intention of going through a list of the areas in which I participate, I want you all to know one thing. We are working toward the same goals. We all care deeply about these issues, and the response to this article makes that clear. If we expect people throughout the country to care about our local issues, we must care about theirs. When something important comes up in a region or on a river you will probably never fish, pitch in. As a result, when something we care about is threatened, the network of individuals fighting for the same goal will be an unstoppable force.
As I mentioned, I had the opportunity to speak directly with Chris Wood, the President and CEO of Trout Unlimited. The fact that he reached out to me speaks to his involvement and leadership, and I am very appreciative for that. He thanked me for writing the piece and for helping to spark this discussion, and we went on to have a very productive conversation about how we direct all of this energy in a positive direction. He has made himself available to continue the discussion, and in the coming weeks you will see a conversation between Chris and I, either in an audio format or a transcribed version. His response was constructive and appreciative, and I am incredibly encouraged by the conversation we had. While I do not know Chris personally, I think his attitude and response demonstrates that he is a man who has found his calling. As we finished our conversation, we came to a very solid agreement that we want the same things and that both Chris and I, as well as all of us, are on the same team.
Finally, I want to discuss my intentions for this blog moving forward. I recognize the reach of the platform that we have here at SCOF, and I realize the importance of using that platform responsibly and constructively. While my intentions for the post were constructive, I should have been absolutely explicit about that. My goal from the beginning of my involvement of this blog has been to advance our sport, and there is no doubt that I have not exploited the reach we have to accomplish that to the degree to which we can. As a result, you are going to see a few changes going forward.
First, I have not encouraged your involvement enough. If you have a conservation project in which you have participated, whether through TU or not, use this platform to let our community know about it. You’ll find our contact information at the bottom of this post, so please feel free to send along a write-up and some pictures to be highlighted on the blog. This holds true for non-conservation articles as well. If you have a good story to tell, some kick-ass pictures from your last trip, or simply an opinion that you think needs to be heard, send it along. I won’t promise that we’ll post everything we receive, but you have my word that we’ll make a better effort.
Lastly, I want to thank you for your response and involvement. The passion from both sides is encouraging; we can get things done. I genuinely look forward to continuing this discussion in an effort to protect the things we all care about. Please continue to be involved with this platform, and be on the lookout for my conversation with Chris. I’m convinced that the diversity of opinions and experiences we’ve seen in the last couple of days can be used to accomplish our goals together. There are fights worth fighting, and they are fights we can win. Let’s make it happen.