Messages from the President of Rocky Mountain Flycasters.
State of the Chapter - President Dick Jefferies
Delivered at the Annual Meeting May 20, 2015
Fifty six years ago on the banks of the Au Sable River in Michigan, sixteen anglers united by their love of trout fishing gathered at a private home. They were growing ever more concerned about how their fisheries, and the waters that support them, were being managed. The result of that meeting in 1959 was the formation of Trout Unlimited.
From the beginning, TU was guided by the principle that if we “take care of the fish, then fishing will take care of itself”. And that principle was guided in science. TU’s first President said, “One of our most important objectives is to develop programs and recommendations based on the very best information and thinking available. In all matters of trout management, we want to know that we are substantially correct, both morally and biologically.”
From that unassuming beginning we have grown into a nationally recognized and respected cold water conservation organization. Today we are still guided by the principle “take care of the fish, then fishing will take care of itself”. Equally relevant today, science now provides evidence to support what we have always known. “If it is good for fish, it is good for people.” Adherence to those core values has enabled TU to create a strong track record of conservation achievements. Perhaps TU’s greatest strength is that it works at multiple levels of society and government to achieve its mission. From the landowner on the stream bank, to the state fisheries agency, to the Halls of Congress, TU is working to achieve its vision.
As a chapter of TU, we are thus charged with implementing that vision at the local level. To do that successfully, it is essential that all of our actions and activities have a nexus with the four sectors of the TU Conservation Agenda - Protect, Reconnect, Restore and Sustain.
Tonight in what is my last State of the Chapter address I would like to take a few moments to look at what I believe are positive signs we are indeed implementing the vision of TU throughout Northern Colorado.
We are involved in both local and State-wide issues providing input, advice and assistance. We understand and recognize that while differing opinions exist on many issues, those differences will never cause us to not work with anyone in trying to find the best possible solutions and outcomes regarding impacts to our watersheds. Whether it is assisting with research in the high back country of Rocky Mountain National Park or advocacy in the bowels of the State Capitol, you will find members of our Chapter hard at work.
Today’s reality is most waterways in the west, by necessity, are a multi-use and often overworked resource. Over time the ongoing development of these systems has resulted in disjointed and disconnected waterways. Through sound science we can now show that reconnecting streams and rivers can be done in a manner that provides fish bypass, is beneficial to the health of the stream and riparian areas, and, provides a more efficient means of moving or diverting water all while reducing the annualized cost to providers.
We live everyday of our lives experiencing cause and effect. The same can be said about conservation issues. Every day there is cause and effect. No matter the cause, be it natural or man-made, we must deal with the effects and impacts to our home waters. Whether we are addressing impacts of grazing adjacent to streams or keeping our public areas free of debris, Rocky Mountain Flycasters has a long and rich tradition of putting boots on the ground in an effort to restore impacted waters. Recent historic fires and floods have presented the need for us to expand those restoration efforts to a watershed scale and while we recognize the challenges that lie ahead we choose to view those challenges as opportunity.
The success of Trout Unlimited has not been by chance. It has been the result of careful planning and strong leadership. Its longevity is directly related to its institutional commitment to sustain the organization through successive generations. In order to do this it is crucial that we share our knowledge and vision with the next generation of conservationists and hopefully new members of TU.
Together, the numerous efforts of our Chapter have a far reaching impact across the watersheds that comprise our Northern Colorado home waters
Finally, we must never lose sight of the fact that the social fabric that binds us is the simple pleasure and satisfaction that comes from angling on the fly. Whether it is through organized group activities or the exquisitely unique satisfaction of teaching someone the art of fly fishing, it is those times we are on water that we reaffirm our priorities and are reminded why we do what we do.
So… are we showing signs of success? As important as quantifiable indexes such as budgets and membership numbers, which by the way are both very strong numbers in this Chapter, I have always believed that another, sometimes overlooked, measurement of success is evidence that others believe in what you do and are willing to work with you in order to achieve common goals and outcomes. If you are not showing signs of success at what you do, you will find yourself doing what you do by yourself. While we should be very proud of the solid relationships this Chapter has developed throughout the area, we need to remind ourselves that our journey is still long and challenging.
Have we been successful? No we have not. And I hope we never are, for the moment you think you have become successful is the moment you stop trying. In TU, we are charged with completing something that should never be complete. It is a multi-generational task and as such it should be approached with a never ending desire and effort to become better, and to become successful.
Before we move into a much anticipated event this evening, the election of the next Board of Trustees, let me offer my heartfelt thanks to you for placing your trust in me. Let me also extend my thanks to the Leadership Team for your dedication and especially your patience. It has been my extreme pleasure to serve this Chapter as President and I look forward to many continued years of involvement and service.
Rocky Mountain Flycasters President 2012-2015
About Dick Jefferies
On his completion of three years as President
Of Rocky Mountain Flycasters Chapter of Trout Unlimited
By Lee Evans, Past President
I was very impressed with Dick’s State of the Chapter speech made just a year ago. Dick talked about the issues facing our chapter and asked, “Can we?” then proceeded to say “Of course we can. A more important question that I challenge each of you with is ‘Will we?’”
He went on to say, “Unlike the easy answers to the question, “Can we?“, I cannot give you an easy answer to the question “Will we?” All I know is that ultimately the answer to “Will we?” is borne from each of us looking inward and asking “Will I?”
We know that when Dick asks himself “Will I?“, the answer is a resounding “Yes!” I believe Dick came into this office with a few goals: shorten the board meetings, increase our chapter’s presence in our community, increase involvement of our members, and maybe start restoring a greenback cutthroat area in the watershed above Long Draw reservoir.
And then the fire happened. And now our home waters are in danger of serious decline, and the agenda changed. While we were all asking how our chapter would be able to take on such a massive restoration project, Dick was saying “I will!” and he started working with many different agencies to create a new non-profit which could write grants, cooperate the planning of details, and be prepared to take on the problem over the long term. His efforts resulted in the Coalition for the Poudre River Watershed, of which he continues as chairman. And this past week, the coalition put boots on the ground and started with the Skin Gulch project. Creating a new non-profit, jumping through all the hoops to get IRS approval, and attending meeting after meeting is not easily doable. But Dick did and we thank him for it.
To make matters worse, the next year the floods happened, and massive restoration of the Big Thompson became needed. Dick’s coalition for the Poudre served as a model for the affected agencies, and, again with Dick’s “I will” philosophy and the increased presence of Rocky Mountain Flycasters, the Big Thompson River Restoration Coalition was formed. And a plan to fix the Big T is now in effect, and grants of $600,000 have been received, with another $1.5 million pending and this huge restoration project has begun.
To continue with Dick’s answer of “Yes I will!” he has committed to staying active with the coalitions, even though his term as president is ending. This sure makes it easier for the new board to continue with Dick’s legacy.
We appreciate Dick’s strategic thinking, his ability to look at long term effects. His experience as a small business owner keeps him ever looking for new opportunities to guide our chapter in the pursuit of TU’s mission. His energy and enthusiasm has truly made our chapter more visible. And he was just elected to CTU’s board, so he can continue to say “I will!” at the state level.
So, thank you, Dick. Our chapter is better because of you. Our home watersheds will be better because of your work. And the number of our members who also say “I will!” has increased substantially because of your example.
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