Georgia Trout Unlimited Chapter Earns National Honor
The Upper Chattahoochee Chapter of Trout Unlimited (UCCTU) was awarded the Gold Trout Award at the recent annual meeting of Trout Unlimited in Rogers, Ark.
The Gold Trout Award, TU’s highest award for chapters, recognizes the top chapter across the United States out of 386 that took innovative and thoughtful approaches over the year to building community and advancing TU’s mission.
As the largest chapter in Georgia, UCCTU’s footprint spans from Atlanta to Milton. Their mission is to conserve, preserve and protect Georgia’s coldwater fisheries and their watersheds.
Like many chapters, UCCTU does amazing work partnering on stream restoration projects. Their long-term project with the U.S. Forest Service on Wilks Creek and Martin Branch doing brook trout habitat improvements, such as large woody debris additions, is a good example of this on-the-ground conservation.
Strong veterans service programs, effective fundraising and intentional leadership development also make the chapter thrive. But what truly makes these “Straight Out of the Hooch” volunteers stand out is their progressive mindset and innovative approaches to taking TU’s conservation mission to new audiences and levels.
To reach new rivers and connect with new people, UCCTU launched an lnstagram contest using the hashtag #CLEANMYWATER. This effort challenging anglers and others to pick up garbage while they are fishing or hiking. Individuals who submit pictures of collected trash to a the Instagram page are entered in quarterly contests for fishing gear.
The chapter has a very active Trout in the Classroom (TIC) program across the greater Atlanta area, with 13 schools and 303 students participating. The program will expand to 15 schools during the upcoming school year. UCCTU also hosts an annual fly-fishing clinic for youth, the Rizzio Fly-Fishing and Conservation Clinic. Chapter members also support the Roswell High School Fly Fishing Club by providing equipment and volunteers for outings.
At the college level, the chapter provides $1,000 each year to the University of Georgia Warnell School of Forestry for a fisheries scholarship.
UCCTU also is heavily involved in the local Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing (PHWFF), an organization dedicated to the physical and emotional rehabilitation of disabled active military service personnel and disabled veterans.
So, what’s the future of UCCTU after winning TU’s Gold Trout Award?
At the annual meeting, the Trout Unlimited Embrace A Stream Program nominating committee announced that the Chattahoochee River Wild Trout Improvement Project was selected as a 2019 Embrace A Stream Grant (EAS) recipient (one of 29 across the country). EAS is a matching grant program administered by TU that awards funds to TU chapters and councils for coldwater fisheries conservation.
In partnership with the Chattahoochee River National Recreational Area – a National Park Service unit, the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, the Oconee River TU Chapter and the UGA Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources, the group identified the Embrace A Stream site, Crayfish Creek. Located near the Highway 20 Bridge in Gwinnett County, the creek is a heavily impaired tributary of the Chattahoochee River where streambank erosion and lack of riparian canopy cover is degrading water quality within reach of the well-known spawning habitat for wild brown trout.
To ensure the River remains a productive coldwater fishery and healthy source of drinking water, the Chattahoochee River Wild Trout Improvement Project will focus on improving water quality and habitat along Crayfish Creek by restoring native riparian vegetation, stabilizing eroded streambanks and removing non-native debris that is altering stream hydrology and contributing to erosion issues.
The Embrace A Stream Project team includes the Upper Chattahoochee Chapter TU, the Oconee River Chapter TU, University of Georgia 5 Rivers Club, Georgia Department of Natural Resources, CRNRA NPS, Chattahoochee Parks Conservancy, UGA Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources, River Through Atlanta, Chattahoochee Riverkeeper and the Georgia Council of Trout Unlimited.
Follow the Upper Chattahoochee Chapter of Trout Unlimited on Facebook and Instagram or reach out to the chapter president directly at [email protected]. For more information about Trout Unlimited, go to GeorgiaTu.org.
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