Trout Unlimited is a national nonprofit organization whose mission is “to conserve, protect and restore North America’s coldwater fisheries and their watersheds.” There are hundreds of TU chapters throughout the country who work through various projects and educational activities to accomplish that mission.
We have a local TU chapter in Sheridan, named the Little Big Horn Chapter of Trout Unlimited, whose members have been extremely active over the past two years in protecting and enhancing our local coldwater fisheries.
There has been a TU chapter in Sheridan for a few decades. In the early 1990s the chapter kind of faded away for various reasons which I’m not familiar with. In 2009, a number of local fly fishermen (including Steve Monninger, Rick Vine, Andy Lowe, June Rose, Bob Krumm, Jack Kling and others) got together in an effort to reestablish the chapter as an active organization. Bylaws were re-filed with the national office and the chapter began anew with Lowe as president, Monninger as vice president and Vine in charge of newsletters and membership promotion.
In 2010, Lowe resigned as president due to other demands and Monninger agreed to take on the job. In just a year and a half, the group expanded its membership, worked aggressively at fundraising and established Wyoming’s first Healing Waters project to help disabled military vets through fly fishing therapy. We had a great annual membership meeting/party in December 2010 to celebrate the chapter’s successes.
In June 2011, Monninger took a job out of the country and had to resign as president. Many of the chapter members were concerned about the chapter falling apart once again. Boy, were we ever wrong!
A gentleman named Joel Wilson immediately agreed to step in to assume responsibilities as president. In just a little less than two years, Wilson’s leadership has helped bring to culmination a long list of projects which have benefited local coldwater fisheries and the citizens of Sheridan County.
From an educational standpoint, Wilson took over the newsletter responsibilities from Vine and did a great job in keeping the newly expanded membership informed. He was aggressive in partnering with other conservation organizations, like Ducks Unlimited, to help educate our youth in fly fishing and conservation by organizing classes at the annual Ducks Unlimited Greenwing Youth Festival. He worked with Krumm to host an annual series of fly tying clinics where four of the area’s promi nent tiers gave free lessons to the public.
Wilson partnered with the local Wyoming Game & Fish Department and the city to provide chapter volunteers to assist with the annual Kid’s Fishing Day. Of particular importance to me, he helped with fundraising for my Healing Waters Project and worked tirelessly for two years as one of my best volunteer assistants to work with our military vets in providing fly fishing therapy.
From a conservation standpoint, Wilson’s leadership has had an even greater impact on our community. He arranged a partnership with the U.S. Forest Service to provide volunteers for stream-bank rehabilitation on the North Tongue River.
He worked with the Game and Fish to put a trout egg incubator in Little Goose Creek where we used an old refrigerator to hatch a few thousand new trout into the creek. I must add that Mike Bower, a chapter board member and fishery biologist, was also instrumental in this project.
Looking to the future, Wilson has worked hard to raise thousands of dollars to partner with the Forest Service to begin a new project to fence livestock away from a section of the South Tongue River. This project will hopefully get under way this coming summer.
My list of accomplishments for our local TU Chapter under Wilson’s leadership can go on and on. Unfortunately, due to demands from his real job (no, he’s not retired), Wilson had to step down as chapter president last month. He will remain on the board, and will help our new interim president, Roger Miller, in the transition. I have every confidence that our TU Chapter remains in good hands.
It has done wonderful things to benefit our county residents and our natural resources.
Much of this is clearly due to the tireless efforts of a man named Joel Wilson! Hats off to him!
If you would like to know more about the activities of LBHTU, and/or if you are interested in joining, contact Miller at firstname.lastname@example.org or our membership chair, Carol Althouser, at email@example.com.
GORDON ROSE works as a commercial fly tier and operates Sheridan WYO Healing Waters, part of a national nonprofit organization which teaches disabled military veterans fly fishing, fly tying and fly rod-building as part of their therapy.