Local TU chapter forming

Some local members of Trout Unlimited are trying to organize a TU chapter in the Kenai-Soldotna area.

Four “fishing” organizations — the Kenai River Professional Guide Association, the Kenai River Sportfishing Association, the Kenai Peninsula Fishermen’s Association and the United Cook Inlet Drift Association — already deal with various issues involving Kenai Peninsula waters. Can the Kenai-Soldotna area support another fishing-oriented organization?

“Yes,” says Dave Atcheson, a TU member who lives in Sterling. “The other organizations do a lot of good things, but they also get into politics and allocation issues. We talked about that at our first meeting, and I think members will want to avoid politics. I think there’s room for a group that mainly wants to talk about fishing-related topics.”

The 20 or so TU members who live in the area, along with several non-members, would like to have a local chapter, according to Atcheson. They held an initial meeting in October, and will hold another on Thursday, Nov. 29.

“You don’t have to be a TU member to attend,” he said. “If you’re interested in fishing and contributing to healthy fisheries, you’re welcome.”

TU members have already been busy along the Kenai River, Atcheson said. Earlier this year, they removed an old wire fence from Soldotna Creek, a tributary that flows into the Kenai in popular Soldotna Creek Park. They also cleaned up along the boardwalk near Moose Range Meadows Subdivision, upstream from Soldotna.

“Outside, TU members spend a lot of time restoring streams,” Atcheson said. “In Alaska, more time is spent protecting them.”

TU is no newcomer to the conservation scene. The organization has been conserving, protecting and restoring coldwater fisheries and watersheds since 1959. TU volunteers annually donate more than 500,000 hours, nationwide.

Alaska looms large on TU’s projects list. Saving Bristol Bay from the threats of the Pebble Mine project is one of its top priorities. Nationwide, TU has 120 experts in the fields of science, policy, law and local organizing, working out of 30 offices. In its search for solutions to conservation problems, TU collaborates with foundations, corporations, landowners and state and federal agencies.

Atcheson said he’d like to see local TU members involved with education, including teaching kids about fish and fish habitat. Prospective local chapter members have said they’d like to hold fly-tying clinics, and some of these could be for kids, he said.

If enough people show up at the coming organizational meeting, we’ll elect officers and board members, Atcheson said. The meeting will be held at 7 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 29, at the Kenai Peninsula College, Kenai River Campus, Room 157.

For more information: (907) 398-4216 or daveatcheson@hotmail.com.

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Les Palmer can be reached at les.palmer@rocketmail.com.

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