All Politics Is (NOT?) Local


a-new-tu.jpgI know that I promised to leave the keyboard alone for a few days, but on my Bloglines page I noticed that Trout Unlimited is not going to fight stream access battles – or, some of the tweedy types – in some far off places – are trying to make it so.

nophish.jpgHal Herring, (love the name,) in NEW WEST has the whole story.

It seems that the official Trout Unlimited philosophy leaves this sort of thing out of their weltanschauung. It goes like this: “If we take care of the fish, then the fishing will take care of itself.”

Perhaps, but if there is no access, there is no fishing & they might as well preserve their fish in a pickle barrel.

And, a couple of local Montana boys have got their ire up. As quoted in the New West article:

“We understand here (in Montana) that TU is involved in numerous issues that are extremely important, and that access is only one of them,” says Marshall Bloom, a longtime TU advocate in the Bitterroot Valley. “But in the West, in the heart of America’s trout fishing, access is inextricably linked to every other element of the TU agenda. You cannot divorce access from any of them.”

“This decision was made in the shadows by a bunch of East Coast city slickers who caved in to some rich landowners.” Bloom says, “What’s the point of this decision, anyway? Let’s say that Plum Creek Timber was going to give TU $70 million, and then a Plum Creek executive said, “Well, TU’s advocacy in timber issues is detrimental to our timber harvest plans….would TU then stop advocating for forest plans that don’t harm trout or fisheries?”

The Chairman of Montana Trout Unlimited, Tom Anacker of Bozeman, is more measured in his response, but no less adamant. “We do not agree with this proposal. What brings people to TU is the experience of fishing our streams and rivers, and that experience is what inspires me to do the work that I do. Montana’s stream access law is part and parcel of who we are.” Anacker adds that, in Montana, unlike other states, access is guaranteed by the law. “We want to continue to protect those legal rights,” he said.

Remember this: if the local battles are lost and you visit Montana and can’t fish the Ruby River it’s because TU ran away from a fight that involved upholding the law.


A fence crosses the Ruby River in southwestern Montana. The Ruby is another Montana waterway where public access debates have escalated. Photo by Jonathan Weber” (from New West.)

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