This past weekend, Rome News-Tribune’s Doug Walker let the public know that things are not as usual for the Coosa Valley chapter of Trout Unlimited. To be more precise, the whole world has been affected by the COVID-19 virus and Trout Unlimited has taken some measures to both protect TU members as well as those with whom we interact.
The TU National leaders have advised the chapters and state councils to follow state, national and local recommended guidelines and use our best judgment in the activities that we pursue.
The following is directly from the National website that offers guidance for chapters and members:
“As we practice social distancing and comply with federal, state and organizational mandates, we are reminded of the value and importance of TU members, supporters, and partners as well as those who are providing essential services during the pandemic. We recognize that our commitment to those within our communities is more important than ever.
Community trust is a critical aspect of chapter and council work, and TU volunteers are strongly encouraged to balance building and maintaining community trust with the decision to re-engage in any sort of in-person activity in this time.
As your chapter or council determines your best route forward, your team will want to review your work window and project priorities to better understand your timeline options. If you face deadlines, contact your funder or agency partners to discuss possible extensions. Once your team understands the pressing need, if any, to pursue restoration project, social event and other outdoor activities at this time, you may opt to postpone efforts or, if timelines cannot be adjusted, cautiously move forward.
If your team has decided to pursue outdoor events and activities, it is recommended that you communicate early and often with community leaders to determine their comfort level with gatherings in their area.”
As we all know, the Kids Fishing Day has been a favorite activity for kids and adults that once participated for 32 years. There is no way that we can have any degree of social distancing with four to six hundred kids and adults crowding around the pond in Cave Spring.
We have held a Veterans Fishing Day for the past seven years and a Ladies Fishing Day for the past two. These fishing days were formatted as hands-on instruction days to teach fly fishing. There is no way that we can do this without coming into close contact with those who want to learn. It is with an abundance of caution and great sadness that the chapter has chosen not to have these events this year and hope that this pandemic will run its course and future events will not have to be canceled.
As far as the Chili Cook Off goes, the nature of that event has so many aspects that involve extremely close contact with members of the public interacting with teams and our TU members that we feel that it is a no-brainer to cancel the cook off also.
I spoke recently with Beverly Smith, VP for Volunteer Operations at TU, and we talked about a lot of things, one of which was what individuals can do. I asked about individual members doing trash pick-up while out on a stream fishing. She advised that you never know who left the trash and how recently it was dropped. If members or the public wish to pick up trash, either do it with “grabbers” or while wearing gloves and to not handle trash with bare hands, and dispose of it properly.
As of now, most chapters are not having meetings and our chapter is canceling meetings until we can come up with a way to do so without endangering anyone.
Free Membership OfferTrout Unlimited National now has an offer for all essential workers. All essential workers can join TU for free for the first year. It is as simple as going to the Coosa Valley TU website, https://coosavalley.tu.org, and clicking on the free membership link.
The article about TU in this past weekend paper finished up with a line saying that two students would not receive the scholarships at UGA. I think Doug just misunderstood that our donation to the Warnell School of Forestry Cold Water Fisheries Endowment would be affected. Here is what is actually happening with the two endowments.
The first endowment is set up to fund at least two undergraduate scholarships of $1000 per student each year. That endowment began about 12 years ago and has been fully funded and is continuing to grow.
The second endowment is for graduate student research in cold water fisheries studies. That endowment is also fully funded but has not reached the amount the professors at Warnell would like.
I spoke with professor Jay Shelton at the Warnell School recently, and he said that the endowments gave two undergraduate scholarships and one graduate research scholarship this year. Although these endowments will continue to generate scholarships and research grants for perpetuity, Jay said that if the graduate research endowment could be funded to $200,000 or more, so much more could be done for the students.
Here is the link for anyone wishing to donate directly to the endowments: https://www.warnell.uga.edu/honoring-jeffrey-peter-durniak.
Since our main chapter fundraiser, the Chili Cook Off, has been canceled, we would be extremely grateful to anyone who helps us grow these endowments. All donations are tax deductible.
I will be speaking more about TU and what is going on with our chapter next week and will give some fishing reports about Trout, Striped Bass, Bream and Bass. Be looking for the next Talking Trout.