Partnering with Trout Unlimited
By Jeff Holzem, with Bill Blancato
Trout Unlimited’s mission is to conserve, protect and restore North America’s coldwater fisheries and the watersheds upon which trout and salmon depend, and to use the best available science to protect these critical habitats. Personally, my goals are to slow climate change and to enjoy fly fishing. Trout Unlimited (TU) provides an opportunity to pursue both.
I am the TU Missouri Climate Change Coordinator, as well as the Jefferson City Missouri Citizens’ Climate Lobby group leader. TU members like me have long been concerned about the impacts of climate change on our trout and salmon resources. In 2004, TU’s national volunteer leadership council added climate change to our national conservation agenda and worked to try and pass the cap and trade legislation in the late 2000s.
In 2013, TU formed a climate change working group to raise climate awareness, TU Climate Change Workgroup, which I am a member of.
In 2015, Trout Unlimited’s Board of Trustees issued a policy statement on climate, which said, “Climate change poses a significant long-term threat to North America’s coldwater fisheries by increasing water temperatures and contributing to the frequency and severity of adverse weather events. TU recognizes the powerful connections between our nation’s energy choices and climate change. TU understands that avoiding the harmful effects that climate change will have on coldwater fisheries requires both a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from existing energy production as well as a fundamental shift in energy sources from fossil fuels to low-carbon technologies and conservation. TU supports policies that will reduce greenhouse gas emissions and hasten the shift to low-carbon energy sources and conservation.”
TU has surveyed its members about climate change and found that their awareness and concern about the problem is growing. In an April 2017 survey, 85% of TU’s members said climate change is real, 76% said human activity was involved, and 74% said climate change is a significant problem—those are higher percentages than the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication reports for the general public. TU’s VP of Government Affairs, Steve Moyer, even joined CCL’s November Lobby Day event to discuss these issues. Watch here:
In March 2019, TU issued a statement specifically in support of the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act (H.R. 763). TU’s support for H.R. 763 and TU’s members’ concern about climate change presents a golden opportunity for CCL chapters to educate TU members about H.R. 763 and on how to exercise levers of political will to support the legislation. You can start by finding the TU chapter nearest you.
You are likely to get a prompt response if you reach out to your local TU chapter. Within a few days of sending an email to the Blue Ridge Chapter in North Carolina, we had a date set for a presentation. The group was receptive to CCL’s message, and it was also a chance to learn about some of TU’s work in the community.
A TU council consists of several chapters. TU’s Climate Change Workgroup recently developed a new role for councils, called the Climate Change Coordinator. The primary responsibility of this role is to communicate a consistent TU science-based message on climate change, whether it’s raising awareness or advocating a Trout Unlimited position. TU is seeking more volunteers for this role. CCL members have a tremendous opportunity to join with TU as Climate Change Coordinators. Reach out to a chapter near you and ask about becoming the Climate Change Coordinator for the chapters in that council. Although TU has endorsed HR 763 and CCL is mainly organizing around HR 763, TU leads a plethora of other conservation efforts and local engagement. Also, you should be conscious that many TU members are conservative, so make sure you walk in with your bipartisan message.
Another way to work with TU is to join a chapter. Do you fish, or want to start? If so, join your local TU chapter. We can work together with them to preserve coldwater fisheries in the U.S. Our policy is the best way to curb future emissions, and you can join with TU in local projects to provide education and help with stream side work.
When TU’s VP of Government Affairs, Steve Moyer, spoke at CCL’s November Lobby Day event, he encouraged us to reach out to TU chapters. When organizations with shared concerns like TU and CCL work together to address climate change, it makes our voices stronger. Together, we can slow climate change for us and for trout.
Jeff Holzem leads CCL’s Jefferson City, Missouri, chapter. Bill Blancato leads CCL’s Winston-Salem, North Carolina, chapter and serves as Regional Coordinator for CCL’s Southeast region.