That’s what one of our members was asked by a bank teller when cashing a cheque from Trout Unlimited Canada. We know what we do, but many unfamiliar with the organization assume from our name that we either sell fish for the table, for stocking in ponds, or at best that we’re a fishing club. Our mission statement, “to conserve, protect and restore Canada’s freshwater ecosystems and their coldwater resources”, does a better job of explaining us than our name does, but even that draws comments like, “So what’s the problem? I get plenty of cold, fresh water from my taps!”
The best way to understand the work of TUC staff and chapter volunteers is perhaps to have a look through the organization’s policies – they’re all on TUC’s website in the ‘Resources ‘ section. Anything entitled ‘Policy Statements’ is probably not top of your reading material list but they’re really quite interesting and informative, especially in their rationale statements. There are the ones that you’d expect to find if you’re somewhat familiar with TUC: on connectivity issues like the need to remove small man-made dams and hanging culverts; minimizing the impact of pipelines on watershed and stream channel health; maintaining or restoring the quality and quantity of aquatic ecosystems; protecting and restoring native fish and their habitat, and the importance of avoiding accidental introductions of the dreaded ‘Aquatic Invaders’.
There are also a few other policies on practices that, in the words of one of them, have “created multiple social and ecological problems.” Check out the one on ‘Bottled Water’, for example, for a sense of how strongly TUC feels on some issues. And there may be one on fracking coming soon that could stir up some controversy, especially in Alberta.
Volunteer work on projects covered by those policies is what we do at the Northern Lights Chapter, along with some information sharing, education, a little flytying, and lots of fishing. We may be unlimited in our interest in water-related conservation, but no, we don’t sell fish and trout are not our only concern.