What follows are President Kevin Parsons’s comments about the award:
That is right. Our Chapter has been selected by TU National to receive the 2018 Golden Trout award. This prestigious award is awarded annually to the Chapter which has “taken innovative and thoughtful approaches to build and expand community and advance TU’s conservation mission”. Of the 420 Chapters, DRWTU is being recognized by TU as its top Chapter for 2018.
It was only 8 years ago when we started our Chapter. Jeremy McGeorge called me and said we needed to get the Deerfield Chapter up and going as it had been defunct for a number of years. I agreed. We started the process of forming our Chapter in October, 2008. The rest is history.
At first we had no idea what we were doing. Most of us never were part of a TU Chapter. Some like me joined TU for this purpose. Then in a few months we were dealing with Hurricane Irene devestation to our watershed. We started with a small group of volunteers doing river cleanup on the North, restoration projects on the Chickley and South, and otherwise found our way figuring out what a TU Chapter was about. A couple years later we began dealing with a FERC relicensing process with no experience or knowledge of what this meant. From the start we recognized the importance of having relationships with other similarly minded conservation organizations, other Chapters, TU MA/RI Council, and State and Federal Agencies, and legislators. We knew early on with limited resources and small membership that to be effective we had to foster working relationships and partnerships with others who shared in our mission to make our watershed better.
Undoubtedly our spawning study has made a dramatic difference. This project was typical of who we are. We knew we had to prove spawning in the main stem. Despite beliefs to the contrary, and FERC repeated denials of MF&W and our requests for spawning studies, we decided we would just do it. And we had no idea how to do it or pay for it! In a couple months we figured it out, got out on the water….and then…wow. Now things are happening.
Our watershed is better as a result of all this rewarding hard work. To now be recognized by TU National is humbling and exciting at the same time. From a bunch of folks who got together just 8 years ago with hardly any idea of what it meant to be a TU Chapter, we have done well. And it is our members that have made the difference. We roll up our sleeves, figure it out, ask for help from others, and we just get it done. Yankee ingenuity and work ethic perhaps.
VP Mike Vito and I will be going to the TU Annual meeting in Redding, California on September 21 to receive this award. We are very excited to be appearing on behalf of our little Chapter that is making a huge difference.